Letters to My Sisters: Discussions on Domestic Violence 2
My first Letter promised to list resources for victims of domestic violence. In this edition of Letters, I will list some of the resources I found online and in my area (the D/M/V -- DC/MD/VA) for victims of domestic violence. There are many many organizations out there to help victims. A simple web search on "domestic violence" yielded numerous hits. It is my hope that the ones I have chosen to list here will be of benefit.
But before we go on to the list...
Last time I told you my story didn't end there, and it doesn't. After I left him, and because we had a child together, I had the unfortunate displeasure of having to stay in contact with my abuser. He was never abusive to our child...just me. So, by law, I couldn't keep him away from our child. He knew better than to try anything. I was wiser and smarter and he knew I wasn't for his mess. He knew I would call the police in a heartbeat. More than that, he knew I was in a different place mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He knew I was no longer under his abusive control. So, I never had any further incidents of abuse/attempted abuse from him.
What I did have, however, was a shadow's view of his life. I knew who he was dating and when he started abusing that one. I knew when he was strung out "beyond help" and when he was in recovery. I knew when one girl dumped him or got dumped by him, when he picked up the next one, and when he started abusing that one. Remember...abuse isn't only physical. I knew when he married again...
What's interesting about his second marriage is that his (soon to be) ex-wife called me names. She called me a bitch. She called me a bitch because they wanted me to close my child support case and allow him to pay me directly, without court order. Yeah... Right... But what is more interesting is that she thought she had found herself a diamond in the rough. THE man. And she made no bones about showing everyone how she felt. I prayed for her through their marriage. Prayed that she wouldn't suffer his abuse -- whether physical or emotional. I often prayed that no one would ever suffer through what I suffered through.
Their marriage is ending... It's ending, as far as I know, due to drugs. I've been told he's strung out again. I've been told that this is what caused the demise of the marriage. I've been told some of the sure fire signs of abuse that have happened in their household over the years -- not actual abuse, but the warning signs that it's happening or is going to happen. I don't know if she suffered any abuse from him and pray that she did not. I just think it's interesting that not only am I no longer a bitch, I'm someone who has been confided in...
That is KEY here...someone trusted -- someone to confide in. A victim will LOOK FOR someone like this in her life and it is one of the few lifelines that she will grab a hold of. I am glad that I am considered a confidant. Glad that I am someone who people can turn to. That is REALLY key here... If you know someone who is, or may be, suffering from domestic violence, by ALL MEANS please be there for that person. Try not to pry. Try not to pull it out of them -- especially if you only suspect abuse. In my experience that will only cause the victim to draw into herself and hide her "secret" even deeper. Just be a good friend, a good listener. Never judge. Allow her to open herself up to you. She will...when SHE is ready. It can't and won't come before she is ready. No matter what you know, what signs you've seen (bruises, scars, cuts, etc.), what little she may have told you/hinted around to in the past -- she is not going to open up to you until she is ready and ONLY if she feels you will be a friend and LISTEN and help in the manner SHE wants to be helped. Be patient. If you are a good, non-judgmental friend, she will come around in her time...
And no, my story doesn't end there either. But that's for the next Letter...
Here are some resources I have come across by doing a web search on domestic violence. I have neither used these resources, nor know anyone who has. However, information on their websites leads me to believe they will be a good resource for those in need:
Copied from www.domesticviolence.org:
COMMON MYTHS AND WHY THEY ARE WRONG
Domestic violence is not a problem in my community.
- Michigan State Police records from 1997 show that a woman is killed by a partner or former partner about once a week in Michigan.
- In 1998, the Michigan State Police reported more than 5,000 victims of domestic violence in Oakland County.
Domestic violence only happens to poor women and women of color.
- Domestic violence happens in all kinds of families and relationships. Persons of any class, culture, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, age, and sex can be victims or perpetrators of domestic violence.
Some people deserve to be hit.
- No one deserves to be abused. Period. The only person responsible for the abuse is the abuser.
- Physical violence, even among family members, is wrong and against the law.
Alcohol, drug abuse, stress, and mental illness cause domestic violence.
- Alcohol use, drug use, and stress do not cause domestic violence; they may go along with domestic violence, but they do not cause the violence. Abusers often say they use these excuses for their violence. (Michigan Judicial Institute, Domestic Violence Benchbook, 1998, p. 1.6 - 1.7)
- Generally, domestic violence happens when an abuser has learned and chooses to abuse. (Michigan Judicial Institute, Domestic Violence Benchbook, 1998, p. 1 - 5)
- Domestic violence is rarely caused by mental illness, but it is often used as an excuse for domestic violence. (Michigan Judicial Institute, Domestic Violence Benchbook, 1998, p. 1 - 8)
Domestic violence is a personal problem between a husband and a wife.
- Domestic violence affects everyone.
- About 1 in 3 American women have been physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. (Commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns Across a Woman's Lifespan: the Commonwealth Fund 1998 Survey of Women's Health, 1999)
- In 1996, 30% of all female murder victims were killed by their husbands or boyfriends. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1997)
- 40% to 60% of men who abuse women also abuse children. (American Psychological Association, Violence and the Family, 1996)
If it were that bad, she would just leave.
- There are many reasons why women may not leave. Not leaving does not mean that the situation is okay or that the victim want to be abused.
- Leaving can be dangerous. The most dangerous time for a woman who is being abused is when she tries to leave. (United States Department of Justice, National Crime Victim Survey, 1995)
MANY VICTIMS DO LEAVE AND LEAD SUCCESSFUL, VIOLENCE FREE LIVES.
Copied from the National Domestic Violence Hotline website (www.ndvh.org):
DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1718 P Street, Suite T-6
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 299-1181 Fax: (202) 299-1193
Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence
6911 Laurel-Bowie Road, #309
Bowie, MD 20715
(301) 352-4574 Fax: (301) 809-0422
(800) 634-3577 Nationwide
Virginians Against Domestic Violence
2850 Sandy Bay Road, #101
Williamsburg, VA 23185
(757) 221-0990 Fax: (757) 229-1553
(800) 838-8238 Nationwide
National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) was established in 1996 as a component of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed by Congress, NDVH is a nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families.The Hotline answers a variety of calls and is a resource for domestic violence advocates government officials, law enforcement agencies and the general public.
NDVH serves as the only domestic violence hotline in the nation with access to more than 5,000 shelters and domestic violence programs across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Advocates answer approximately 21,000 calls each month. The Hotline is toll-free, confidential and anonymous. NDVH operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in more than 170 different languages through interpreter services, with a TTY line available for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing. The staff at NDVH and the Texas Council on Family Violence is also available to provide assistance and guidance in a variety of areas including media, public relations, fundraising, public policy, legal advocacy and public education and training.
National Council on Family Violence
Board of Directors
Charles L. Perry
Sheryl Cates, CEO
Help is available to callers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Hotline advocates are available for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Assistance is available in English and Spanish with access to more than 170 languages through interpreter services. If you or someone you know is frightened about something in your relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
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