Domestic Violence is Everyone's Problem

I know, usually I post something witty, or silly, but October is the month to a few great causes, one of which seems to get over shadowed or forgotten altogether: Domestic Violence.

Domestic Violence Awareness is a cause near and dear to my heart. As a child who witnessed it growing up, a child who saw, first hand, the pain it causes not only to the woman, but also to the entire family.

Here are a few facts, courtesy of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • Most cases of DV are never reported to the police, in fact it is one of the most chronically underreported crimes. 
  • 1 in 4 women will be a victim of DV in her lifetime. 
  • Domestic Violence is not strictly physical abuse, but also ranges into emotional abuse, isolation, using children, and blaming of the victim.  
  • Over 3 million children witness violence in their home each year. 
  • 80-90 precent of children living in homes where there is DV are aware of the violence. 
Over the years I have heard a lot of people say things like "Well she could have just left" or "Why doesn't the woman call the police?" Or worse yet "She did something to ask for it."  

Let me give you a few pieces I have learned over the years, watching this happen: 
  • When a woman is abused in any way, the man takes away all of her power.  In the case of my Mother, my step father not only used physical abuse, but he also isolated her, blamed her and made it impossible for her to leave.   She was threatened that if she ever left, he would take the kids and she would never see them again.  She did not have a job in that control of finances is one of the key ways an abuser keeps control over the woman.   She was scared and had no place to turn and no skills.  
  • Women are afraid to call the police because that will make the situation worse.  Imagine that you are stuck, you have no idea how to function outside of the present situation because it's what you saw growing up, or it is all you believe you deserve.  Or even more, there are children involved.   What happens when you call the police?  The violence will get worse if they do not arrest the abuser and ensure he cannot come near the victims again.  This, however, is a rarity as the abusers are typically charming, sweet talkers, who can worm their way back into the lives of the women.   Abusers do not become abusers without that charm. 
  • The hand that feeds.   Control is the biggest thing that abusers hold over their victims.   They are essentially "the hand that feeds" and the women feel that they have no other options because how will they function.  When this is all you've known, it is a hard thing to look up and see that there is another alternative. 
  • People will abandon you.   My parents had a family friend that we saw pretty regularly.  One day my mother told her friend that my step father was abusing her.   Her friend told her she was ridiculous and she didn't want to get involved.  Her friend then told her husband and then they promptly stopped talking to my family as they once had.   Do people see that doing things like this only perpetuate the cycle of abuse?  That not helping, even if it is hard, only makes it worse?  Only allows it to continue to get worse?  
It is time, dear friends, that we speak out against this abuse.  We should no longer leave things as "that is their own business" because then we are telling the abusers, and society, that it is okay for a man to hit a woman, to isolate her and her children, to make them afraid to live in their own home.   Is this what we want?  Homes where the second the "father" returns the children hid e in their rooms? Where the woman is too afraid to speak up?  Where we are all too afraid to say the wrong thing?  To move the wrong way? To be further told we are nothing?  NO!  

It is time to stop the silence on this.  Domestic Violence is NEVER the fault of the victim.  We need to make sure that the victims are safe, that they have options, that we do not ignore their plight.  We need to reelect on that every day, not just for one month.  Reach out.  Help Out.  Speak Out.  

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: 1-866-331-9497

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