You Are Not Alone | Domestic Violence Awareness Month
When you hear the term Domestic abuse, what does that mean to you? Most people picture domestic abuse as a physically beaten woman laying in a hospital bed, clinging to life after her partner has put her there. However, domestic abuse is a great deal more than that. Just because you’re not bruised or bleeding does not mean that you are not abused. There is no “little” form of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse includes physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse. You may experience all or just one of these in a relationship, but either way, it’s still considered abuse. Period.
The most degrading question we can face as a survivor of domestic abuse is, “Why didn’t you just leave?” It is hard to explain to a person that has never lived through this experience, but when you are in the situation, you do not realize that you are being abused. Your mind doesn’t let you believe that you were abused; in your reality you were just being strong for your partner. To friends and family members it is completely visible, but to you, it’s not. You have put up mental walls blocking from seeing your partner as anything but loving, handsome, and caring. You “know” that you are the only person that can fix him, make him better, less angry.
Finally, one day, you tear down those mental walls and you begin to accept that you are a victim. This step may take weeks, months, or even years to happen. There is no correct time-frame to accept this truth. You may be blaming yourself for ever letting it get that far. Questioning if you really are a victim or if it was your choice to stay. Worrying about what society might say or who they will believe, you or the abuser?
This is also the time-frame that you go into survivor mode. Statistics show that a woman is 70 times, (YES 70 TIMES!), more likely to be murdered when they leave the relationship then if they would have just stayed. The fear of the unknown and having no where else to turn to, often causes the victim to stay with the abuser rather than face the alternatives.
Silence allows the epidemic of domestic abuse to continue to grow. You are not alone. 1 in 3 women in the United States will experience some type of domestic abuse throughout their life. 1 in 5 men in the United States will also experience domestic abuse. Domestic abuse has no boundaries when it comes to social statuses, gender, sexual preferences, or demographics.
When you become aware that someone is being abused, don’t push or force them to do something they are not ready for. Let them know that you understand what is going on and you are there to help. Because danger increases so much the first 3 months after leaving an abusive relationship, the individual should have a safety plan together before leaving. This includes having important documents gathered, a safe place to stay, fully charged cell phone, bag of clothes/personal items, and an escape plan. The term “escape plan” is called this because when you are in a domestic abuse relationship you are truly held in a prison which requires you to escape; this plan is you taking back your freedom, your confidence, your life. You are not alone.
If you or someone you know is in a domestic abuse relationship and would like to reach out to our domestic abuse advocate at Crossroads please call or text 515-454-0051.