Amongst the colorful leaves and the upcoming enthusiasm for fall, a dark shade of purple emerges. This color purple is the spreading bruises on the skin and hearts of the victims of domestic violence. October isn’t just Breast Cancer month it is also Domestic Violence Awareness month. Domestic violence like Breast cancer affects everyone, all races and genders, but unlike the pink ribbon memorabilia and Avon Walks it is rarely talked about. The definition of domestic violence is defined as “… violence and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.” Domestic violence and abuse doesn’t always start out the same way for everyone. Sometimes it starts out with just over protectiveness or jealousy and other times it starts out with verbal abuse. The key is to learn the warning signs not only for yourself but for your friends and family. The Hotline website breaks down each method used to gain power and control. The domestic violence and control wheel covers eight major areas: using emotional abuse, using isolation, minimizing denying or blaming, using children, using male privilege, using economic abuse, using coercion and threats, and using intimidation.
This topic hits home for me in a major way. I watched my mother become a victim of verbal and physical abuse by my father as a child. He managed to take everything she had prided herself in and destroy it slowly like acid. I watched him name call, control her contact with family, threaten her, and threaten me. She felt ashamed of her situation and felt as if it was her fault. She was afraid to reach out to friends and family for fear their judgement would be worse than staying in her marriage. She finally did ask for help but it was a very difficult thing for her to do. Victims of this type of trauma feel as if they deserve it and that feeling comes from the mind control and manipulation of the other person. The abuser gets into the victims head and makes a very sound logical person feel like they can’t make any choices or decisions without them. That is all part of the issue with domestic violence.
The stigma about it and the shame that is associated makes it difficult for people like my mother to leave these situations. Nothing makes me angrier than when I hear someone make comments like “well she should have left sooner” or “she stayed so she gets what she gets.” The psychological damage involved in many of these situations is almost worse than the actual physical abuse. The body and the skin heal eventually but the emotional and mental scars sometimes don’t. There was a point where my father would threaten to take me and kidnap me from my mother if she ever left. My father didn’t like to make idle threats. As a reinforcement of his threat, he showed up at my school and made it very uncomfortable for the teacher and my grandparents who always picked me up. I don’t think I need to tell you how alarmed and frighted this must have made my mother. This is just one example of manipulation and abuse that my mother experienced. There were endless fights that involved flying objects at our heads, fists being thrown through walls, through glass and at us. We lived in a war zone. My mother, myself and others are just a growing statistic that seems to be falling by the wayside. Why is this still a taboo topic? We can watch commercials about endless herbal sexual stimulants but we can’t discuss abuse? Where is the public outcry?
This type of abuse and violence has been going on for centuries and the fact that it is still an issue today is nauseating. The statistics about domestic violence and abuse are staggering. According to a 2010 CDC National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey, “More than 1 in 3 women and more than 1 in 4 men in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and or stalking in their lifetime.” The CDC estimates that around ” 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by a partner ( examples include hit with a fist, beat with something, slammed into something or beaten).” How can we call ourselves a civilized society when we have numbers like this? There needs to be as much enthusiasm for this cause as every other. Only recently on TV during football games have I seen commercials for NO MORE which is a slogan from the National Network to End Domestic Violence. I have no doubt this was sparked by the scandals of domestic violence committed by professional athletes. Why does it take a celebrity to take a topic like this and make it real to people? The victims of domestic violence and abuse often feel as if they have no way out, they are alone, or trapped in their environment. One of the biggest things that helped my mother survive was having a network to reach out to. I can say as her daughter I am so proud of my mother for her bravery and strength. Unfortunately, some people are not as fortunate as us. We as a society need to be the network for these victims. If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence please know that you are not alone. If you feel comfortable enough talking with a friend or family member do so. If you prefer talking to someone who is unknown to you they have great confidential hotlines that are available 24 hours a day. You are not to blame for what is happening. You ARE stronger than you think and you DO deserve happiness and to feel safe.
Be well and be safe!♥
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224