Faces of Domestic Violence - Pt. 1
The above photo as horrible as it is; reveals a re-enactment of the faces of domestic violence. Every day, three women die as result of abuse—that's nearly 1,100 killed every year. "That number might not mean anything to you…unless the woman was your mother, your sister, your daughter," Oprah says on her show titled, "Why Men Abuse Women," in March of this year.
I chose this photo because it depicts exactly what happened to my friend, Sara. Sara and Eli (not their real names) were high-school "first loves" that got married too soon and six years and a child later wound up in this predicament. Sara's dad had warned her from the start that Eli was not the one for her, however, she loved his "a little taste of bad boy" style.
Sara was almost 15 when she met Eli who as going on 19, and the more Sara's dad discouraged their relationship the more she decided to prove her dad wrong. So as soon as Sara graduated high-school, she and Eli got married and moved in with his parents. Within a month, Sara realized that she had made a drastic mistake. Eli's mother was a verbal abuser who rant and raved with his dad and or him almost every evening. Sara, on the other hand, grew up in a home with a mom and dad that never argued. The only disagreement that she could recall of her parents was that one time her dad told her mom that he disagreed with her and then he left the room. She's not even sure who won that disagreement because the subject was never bought up again, and there were no signs of either parent being angry the next day.
Being in an environment of screaming, yelling, and eventually hearing things been thrown around the room was not something that Sara was used to seeing nor hearing. Eli's dad would never defend himself, he would simply ignore his wife for hours upon a time while she fussed. Eli started leaving Sara at home while he went out and got drunk and came in during the wee hours of the night. Sara could have easily went home but she chose to ignore the situation in hopes of better days. This is when Sara begin meeting the faces of domestic violence....
Faces of Denial
“It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.” – Bill Watterson
Domestic violence which is being illustrated in the above picture along with the caption, "But they worked it out," happens very often because of denial. Denial is usually the first face of deception concerning domestic violence. Denial is the most criticized and an extremely misunderstood time of the violence cycle. Denial is an act of self-betrayal that lulls its victim into a false security while the hard truth is like a slap in the face. It is during this time of false security the abuser ensures that he or she can remain in control of the situation by making one of the below statements. According to Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love, there are many types of denial that comes from an abuser.
“How often it is that the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him.” – Frank Herbert
When confronted by his victims, most abusers tend to shift blame or avoid the topic altogether:
- Outright Denial - Typical retorts by the abuser: "It never happened, or it was not abuse, you are just imagining it, or you want to hurt my (the abuser's) feelings."
- Alloplastic Defense - Common sentences when challenged: "It was your fault, you, or your behavior, or the circumstances, provoked me into such behavior."
- Altruistic Defense - Usual convoluted explanations: "I did it for you, in your best interests."
- Transformative Defense -Recurring themes: "What I did to you was not abuse – it was common and accepted behavior (at the time, or in the context of the prevailing culture or in accordance with social norms), it was not meant as abuse.
“Delay is the deadliest form of denial.” – C. Northcote Parkinson
Denial is a friend to domestic violence because it brings about confusion to the abused individual. Sara had hope and endured all of the forms of denial within her marriage for seven years.
The Faces of Confusion
More of Sara's Story...
After about a year of having her marriage involved in a domestic abusive environment, Sara worked hard and saved enough money for a small apartment where she and Eli could live. Sara hoped that this would eliminate Eli's drinking too much, staying out all hours of the night, and that they could become a happily married couple. Well, nothing changed! Eli continued spiraling down-ward and Sara met the second face of domestic violence- confusion.
After hearing all of Eli's denials for over a year now, she started believing that perhaps she was the problem. So embarrassed and ashamed of her unhappy situation, Sara decided to remain secluded and quiet because she had never been physically hurt by Eli. She had only been emotionally abused and mentally hurt by being told she was ugly and that no one else wanted her. And yes, Eli was now verbally abusing her as Eli's mom had done him; and occasionally the mother-in-law would demean her with a few choice words about the fact that she was too skinny and appeared to be ill. She continued to hope that one day they would have a happy marriage.
Through the Eyes of a Child
Did I do something
to make you lose
Anger so strong
or do you even know?
That when you come
I want to run and hide
The pain is so deep
that I keep it inside
I'm not the same
because of you
Always afraid of what
If only you could see
yourself through my
You'd know why (I’m
Sometimes I need a
firm, but gentle hand
Someone who cares
that I am still learning
But I just can't take this
abuse, from you
There is no excuse
I'm not the same
because of you
Always afraid of what
If only you could see
yourself through my
You'd know why (I'm
This is no way to live If you try to change I'll try to forgive.
From CHANCE (Changing How Adults
Nurture Children's Egos) -Located on the ACADV website.
Confusion's Affect on Children Involved in DV
Statistics show that over 3 million children witness
violence in their home each year.
Unfortunately, these little ones see and hear things they should not
have to be an eyewitness; and in many cases they too are victims to physical and
emotional violence. Unfortunately Sara had no knowledge of domestic violence or how it could affect your partner if they were raised in such an environment. Eli began to take on the role of "the abused becoming the abuser."
Children react to their environment in different ways, and those reactions can vary depending on the child's gender, age, and the duration of the time the individual was exposed to domestic violence.
The ACADV for children reveals that, “Children exposed to family violence are more likely to develop social, emotional, psychological and or behavioral problems than those who are not. Recent research indicates that children who witness domestic violence show more anxiety, low self esteem, depression, anger and temperament problems than children who do not witness violence in the home.” This experienced trauma can show up in emotional, behavioral, social and physical disturbances that effect the development as children and can continue into adulthood.
- Shame, guilt, and self blame.
- Acting out or withdrawing.
- Aggressive or passive.
- Refusing to go to school.
- Isolation from friends and relatives.
- Stormy relationships.
- Nervous, anxious, short attention span.
- Frequently ill.
- Self abuse
The above is only a portion of the potential effects that domestic violence can have on a child for more information see additional websites below.
- Domestic Violence Support Organization - Online Support Group, Information
Founded in 1995 by Felisha K. Scott with more than 5 million members worldwide. You might benefit from this domestic violence online support community,
- ACADV: Children And the Effects of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence affects every member of the family, including the children. Family violence creates a home environment where children live in constant fear.
- Survey of Recent Statistics on Domestic Violence
- The Brightest Star
We strongly believe that abused, abandoned, neglected and severely troubled children, who are in need of hope and motivation in Americas foster and residential treatment care, if given the chance to understand the power of having a dream, can and wil
- Verbal Abuse
Although many people have heard sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt us, those who have suffered from verbal abuse know that words do hurt and can be as damaging as physical blows are to the body.
Denial brings much confusion to the abused woman, an enervation of mind greater than any fatigue.
In conclusion of Faces of Domestic Violence - Pt2, please do not make the same mistakes as Sara; learn the signs of being in an abusive relationship early. If you know that your partner grew up in a domestic abusive environment ask he or she to seek counseling when the warning signs first appear. Do not wait until the faces of domestic violence starts happening to you as Sara did. Once you begin to accept the faces of denial and confusion it will be more difficult for you to leave. If you are in an abusive environment and choose not to consider leaving then please at least consider not bringing an innocent child into such an abusive situation. Domestic abuse is a vicious cycle of events that are difficult to break through without the help from others. If you are a victim to mental abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, or
physical abuse from your spouse or another loved one; you can bring
about change by seeking help.
Within this hub I have identify two of the faces or phases of domestic violence. Those were that many individual go into a state of denial and or confusion when the beginning stages of domestic violence start happening. Other faces(phases) of domestic violence are: embarrassment and shame, self-image, justification, deception, and self-betrayal. These faces and the rest of Sara and Eli's story will be completed in another hub in the near future as time permits. With in the six degrees of people that you know and love there is at least one person that has either experienced domestic abuse or is now a victim of domestic violence. Let's start focusing on a means of stopping the violence and ending the hurt....