October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but in light of all the recent publicity I decided to write about it now. A few years back I wrote a 4 part series, you can go to Blogs and then Domestic Violence to find the articles, they are broken down by the following categories: The Abuser, The Victim, Friends and Family and Starting Over.
If you were ever a victim of domestic violence you have a special place in your heart for other victims. That special place is a place which holds the memories of all the hurt and abuse that you once dealt with. There is life after all the violence; it is our voices that help others to see that there is.
Let’s start from the beginning to understand it better. You are young; you have all the hopes and dreams of being young. A house, a perfect husband and children fit your perfect dream life. Then the unthinkable happens, your perfect mate is an abuser. There are many signs but you are too love struck to see any of them. The loving man that you once dated is now verbally and physically abusive. Your nerves are shot from trying to do everything perfect so you don’t rattle his/her cage and make them snap. You see it’s all your fault, everything is your fault. You poured the ketchup out of the bottle wrong, you poured the salt wrong, you do everything wrong! You did it, you caused it and you will pay for it! The sun is behind the clouds, it is your fault. You are nothing, your likes, dislikes and opinions DO NOT MATTER. You are both worthless and useless no matter what you do. You are nothing and will always be nothing. You have been beaten down to nothing.
Remember, it did not start off like this, maybe it did for some. In-between, there were some good times, some good memories and that is what you hold onto, the hope that you will have them again. You hold onto the promise that change will occur because your mate is sorry and they promised it again, that they will change. Other’s hang on because of money, they don’t have any and if they have children it’s even tougher. Another reason is lack of support, no one around them to encourage them to leave; the abuser has chased everyone out of their life. The victim is too beaten down to leave; their courage and hope are gone. The reasons go on…
It takes an average of 7 times for the victim to leave. Why so many times? Look at it like this. You are on the floor, depleted of everything, your self-worth, your courage…everything. You leave once, you feel out of place wherever you go, and you go back. You do this several times. Just as you are lying on that floor, the first time you leave you gain strength and courage and your self-esteem rises. You rise slowly off the floor every time you leave. You rise as your strength, courage and self-esteem returns.
The most unsafe time for the victim is after she leaves the abuser. Remember that an order of protection is just a piece of paper. Be safe, have a safe plan when you leave, talk to the professionals. If you work, tell your boss and co-workers what is going on. Make copies of your order of protection, have one with you, put one in the glove box, have one at work. Make sure that you have someone with you at all times after you leave the abuser. He is most dangerous at this point because he has nothing to lose; he lost it all and wants and needs that control back. The abuser has the “if I can’t have you, no one else will” attitude, so be safe! The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233. Please be safe!
Domestic Violence is a cycle. Children learn from what they see. The way to stop the cycle is to help educate our young on how to look for signs and how to break the cycle. It is a painful topic to discuss and its repercussions last from generation to generation. Let’s stop it by learning and teaching about it.