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Domestic Violence Abuse, My Story.
Every year there are over a million women that will be victims of domestic violence. One in every four women will experience some sort of domestic violence in their lifetime. Of all the domestic violence victims out there, 85% are female. Of that statistic, women who range in age from 20 to 24 are at the greatest risk for nonfataldomestic violence. The scariest statistic is that most cases of domestic violence go unreported. Did you know that as recently as only 30 years ago, spousal rape was not considered to be illegal?! These facts and statistics are unnerving to say the least.
You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your partner:
- Calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you.
- Does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive.
- Tries to isolate you from family or friends.
- Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with.
- Does not want you to work.
- Controls finances or refuses to share money.
- Punishes you by withholding affection.
- Expects you to ask permission.
- Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets.
- Humiliates you in any way.
You may be in a physically abusive relationship if your partner has ever:
- Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.).
- Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked or choked you.
- Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
- Scared you by driving recklessly.
- Used a weapon to threaten or hurt you.
- Forced you to leave your home.
- Trapped you in your home or kept you from leaving.
- Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
- Hurt your children.
- Used physical force in sexual situations.
But what is domestic violence? Yes, it is when your partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse physically harms you, but it is also so much more than that. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.” So, as you can see, it is much more than physical abuse.
I am a domestic violence survivor. I was in an abusive relationship for over 12 years with one person, and jumped directly into another relationship that was equally, if not more, abusive than the last. In my first relationship where abuse occurred, I knew that it was occurring, and I did little to nothing to stop it. Of course, you fight back at first, but then the shame and embarrassment sets in, and after a while I just got used to it. It was a part of my life, I chose this person and this was just a part of the package. On occasion, I even opened up to a friend or relative, and no one ever said anything to me, no one ever urged me to get out. No one ever said, “Run!” So I stayed. Many years down the road, I made a friend that did care. She urged me to leave, offered me assistance, and so I finally did leave. I was not sure what my rights were, or of what I could do to protect myself.
Now I am aware that there are many services out there to help you stay safe, cope, heal and return to a normal life. Not only are their shelters, which many people are too embarrassed to go to, but there is a 24-hour hotline that you can call, just to be able to talk to some one, if not get further help (THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: 1-800-799-7233). There are also laws to protect your job while you seek assistance, make a safe plan, move, get legal help, etc. Most people don’t know that this protection exists. Getting a domestic violence restraining order is even pretty easy, but it’s not a guaranteed protection. It will, however, help caution the abuser, and give you some power, should they attempt to contact you.
Escaping an abusive relationship is only part of the battle though. We also need to break the cycle, and not continue in other abusive relationships. As I stated before, I went from one abusive relationship to another. The second relationship was not overtly abusive in the beginning though. It was a slow progression, to the point that I didn’t even realize that I was being abused, at first. The person that had come to my rescue and aide was my next abuser.
In the beginning the abuse was not clear, she would criticize me non-stop and blame me for everything that went wrong. When we would get into discussions about life, she would often tell me that I deserved all these bad things that had happened to me. Then she became financially abusive, by not only withholding money from me, not paying her portion of bills and borrowing large sums of money from me and not repaying them. I became dependent on her, which is what she wanted, I later learned. It wasn’t too long later that the abuse became a little more apparent, although I was still primarily blind.
My partner would hold me hostage in our home, not allowing me to leave, even to go to work. Or when she would allow me to leave, I had to be home in a designated amount of time, and I was to check in with her periodically so she knew that I was doing what I said I was doing. She would even call my work phone obsessively, to the point that I had over 50 calls from her cell phone to my work phone in one 8-hour shift. Then the abuse escalated again, and she began pulling my hair, grabbing my arm, or grabbing me around my waist to keep me from walking away from her when she was verbally abusing me. This then escalated to her hitting me, which escalated to her kicking me when I was literally already down on the ground. At this point, I knew what was going on, and knew that I had to get out, now. No waiting for someone to rescue me, no waiting for her to really hurt me. I left, moved back in with my mother at the age of 30 and started putting my life back together for me.
It was a hard journey to endure, and there are still times when I can hear all the horrible things that were said to me, in my head. This is the thing that most people don’t realize. The physical abuse, in most cases, will heal. Bruises will fade, cuts will heal, but the emotional pain that we endured is lasting. The emotional scars do not heal, they do not fade, they stay with us through the rest of our life. I am committed to breaking my cycle though, setting a good example, and moving on with my life. So thank you Rhianna for speaking out on your abusive situation. It is a scary situation to be in, and it often times seems like there is no way out. But there is. Please look at the resources I have listed.
If you need help:
THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: 1-800-799-7233
THE NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT HOTLINE AT 1-800-656-4673
THE NATIONAL TEEN DATING ABUSE HOTLINE AT 1-866-331-9474
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