As the month is about to close, I didn’t want it to end without touching on an issue that is very important to me. There have been many breast cancer walks and fundraisers this month to bring awareness to breast cancer and I totally support that cause. I just wanted to touch on a cause that is often overlooked, but very prevalent in our society and that is Domestic violence. Many people aren’t even aware that this is the month we bring awareness to this horrible epidemic. Most everyone knows somebody who has been affected by it, going through it, or has come out of a violent situation. Although I don’t want to diminish the fact that men are often abused by their partners, I am not a man so I cannot speak from the male perspective. I have been on both sides of the coin so to speak as I witnessed my mother involved in an abusive situation, and I went through one myself as an adult. For the abuser there can be various reasons they are classified as such. There are four main types of Domestic abuse. The national coalition against domestic violence defines that:
Is the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing death, disability, injury, or harm. Physical violence includes, but is not limited to, scratching; pushing; shoving; throwing; grabbing; biting; choking; shaking; slapping; punching; burning; use of a weapon; and use of restraints or one’s body, size, or strength against another person.
Sexual violence is divided into three categories:
1) The use of physical force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against his or her will, whether or not the act is completed;
2) attempted or completed sex act involving a person who is unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, to decline participation, or to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act, e.g., because of illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or because of intimidation or pressure; and
3) Abusive sexual contact.
Threats of physical or sexual violence
The use of words, gestures, or weapons to communicate the intent to cause death, disability, injury, or physical harm.
Involves trauma to the victim caused by acts, threats of acts, or coercive tactics. Psychological/emotional abuse can include, but is not limited to, humiliating the victim, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, and denying the victim access to money or other basic resources. It is considered psychological/emotional violence when there has been prior physical or sexual violence or prior threat of physical or sexual violence. In addition, stalking is often included among the types of IPV (intimate partner violence). Stalking generally refers to “harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property”.
Each year about 4.8 million women are abused or sexually assaulted. It’s a vicious cycle that is likely passed down from generation to generation. The biggest tragedy of this whole thing to me is how the woman is almost always made to feel like it’s something that she must have done to warrant being battered. I am no exception. After watching my mother go through that situation, I vowed that it could never be me, and don’t you know, it still ended up being me. I didn’t understand how I ended up in a situation where I was being abused. It didn’t help that my abuser was an excellent provider, an all around likeable guy and completely adored by everyone in my family. Upon hearing about a fight between us, I can’t tell you how many times my family members asked me, “Well, what did you do”? “You had to do something for him to act like that”. Although I knew that I didn’t, having family members who I looked up to say that made me question myself and think, yeah, maybe I did do something. It has got to be me. I was a young girl at the time, and I didn’t even know who I was as a woman. Every woman I looked up to seemed to blame me. I often searched my mind, blaming myself, knowing that it was surely something I had done, or some warning signs that I overlooked. As I stated previously, I was really young then, but I have since educated myself, and even volunteered at a domestic violence shelter for several years following that. Today, I know that it was not me. It was him. It was his need to control me, and to make me feel powerless to him. Throughout the relationship, he hit me once or maybe twice and each time after that was an increasing mental psychological/emotional violence. He never hit me again, but he didn’t need to. He used intimidation, and threats to control me. No matter what I did, his mood was completely unpredictable. I did the whole leave him, go back, and leave again, and go back thing a few times. I stayed with family members who, worked in connection with him to get us “back together”. Ha! Talk about betrayal! I basically had nowhere to turn to, and I knew that I had to break free and do it on my own. One day, I just decided, that was not the life I wanted. I was young, I was beautiful, I was smart, I was somebody, and I was tired of being made to feel that I wasn’t. I prayed everyday and I asked God to give me a way out. I prayed to God to release me from that situation, and he did. Once I got that release from God, I gained strength I needed to stand on my own, I was gone and, I never looked back. This is just a part of my story. There are many women who unfortunately never make it out to tell their stories. There are many women who don’t have a support system and who feel alone. It’s a big misconception that women stay because they like being abused. This is an ugly horrible untruth, and a complete judgment made by someone who has no idea of what it’s like to be in this situation. Do these people really believe that someone wants to be abused or beaten in any way for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Do they honestly believe that someone wants to be a prisoner in their own homes, or walk on egg shells because they don’t know what will trigger the abuser off the next time? When will we wake up! This issue is very dear to my heart, and I will never stop fighting for it, I will never stop educating, and I will never blame a victim for being abused. Through the grace of God, I had the power in me to leave my abuser. I was no longer a victim nor was I powerless to my circumstance. I took my power back and I gained freedom. But, I can’t help but think about the four million women who are not able to leave. There are varying reasons why they don’t leave. Some of the reasons can include but are not limited to lack of education, support, career, finances, hardship, low self-image, fear, children, guilt, and a lack of resources. We don’t have enough shelters, safe houses, support networks, or supportive families to give everyone a fair shot out of domestic violence. For many women, this is all they know. I just want to help bring awareness to the issue. I would like for every mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, and friend to get involved if you suspect one of your loved ones is being abused. Don’t close off the lines of communication, and do offer them alternatives other than going back to the abuser. If someone cries out to you for help, hear them. How many women, and children, and families have to be destroyed before we properly educate people and punish the individuals that are committing these crimes? Victims should not be judged for being abused. Don’t ever judge a book by its cover because I am one of them and one is too many…
If you or someone you know needs help please contact the National Domestic Violence confidential/hotline 24/7 at: