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Happy Birthday Jennifer
Today is my big sister's 29th birthday. I woke up this morning knowing that even though she is alive, there was absolutely no way of me telling her happy birthday. I can't call her on the phone to tell her how much I love her. I can't post well-wishes on her Facebook page. I can't even mail her a birthday card. Because if I did, it could kill her. You see, she is the victim of domestic violence. Her husband has completely isolated her from the outside world. She has no cell phone, no internet access and lives on a farm in rural Colorado. If I were to reach out to her somehow, it could send her husband into a rage with her as his personal punching bag.
So today, I say happy birthday to her in my heart. I am so thankful that God made her, because she is a truly amazing person. Jennifer loves animals and the outdoors. She enjoys cooking and spoke of one day having her own restaurant. I am grateful that she is alive today, because she could've been dead.
- Every 15 seconds a woman is beaten by her husband or partner in the United States.
- A battering incident is rarely an isolated event. Violence typically tends to increase and escalate in severity over time.
- Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.
In February 2013, one night my sister arrived home from work. She had done nothing wrong and didn't ask to be abused by the man who supposedly loved her. For 13 hours, she was beaten, held hostage in her own home and strangled twice to the point of unconsciousness. The next morning she fled from her husband with only what she could grab on her mad dash out the door. With the encouragement of her friends, she sought medical attention and filed a police report. Then she went to my mother's house, where the next course of action was finding her a safe place to stay. Mom's house was out because her husband knew where that was. Plus he had made threats before to kill our entire family if Jen ever left him. So, for the next month, she stayed with me in Texas.
When I picked her up from the airport, bruised and visibly ashamed, I could tell she was hurt. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. She was angry, distant, and strangely sympathetic towards her husband. She had a lot of healing to do and I tried my hardest to help her. It was the most stressful situation I have ever endured. I had no clue how to make it better and I so desperately wanted to make it all better. But you can't put a bandage on something like domestic abuse. She had been in this relationship for over ten years, the damage wasn't going to go away overnight.
To exasperate the whole healing process, two weeks after he had beat my sister senseless, her husband began to harass her through emails. Even though there was a restraining order against him, he was back in her ear, begging and coercing her back into the abusive relationship. April 2013, she returned to her husband even though everyone, including medical professionals, told her it was too dangerous. Not long after, the justice system failed my sister as well. Remember how she had filed a police report? The state of Colorado had pressed charges against her husband, but just 9 months later the charges were dropped. Basically the court sent the message to both my sister and her husband that domestic violence is okay.
I haven't spoken to my sister since then. I think she is still alive. I pray that is true. I know her situation could be ten times worse, but this is my sister. I love her; I don't want her to be in a relationship where she is abused. As a child I wanted to be like her. Never did I ever imagine she would become the victim of domestic violence. I never realized what kind of impact that would have on me and my entire family.
Several years before this incident had occurred, my mom removed every photograph of my sister from her home. She told people that she only had two children instead of three. Probably not the healthiest or most logical thing to do, but she tried to emotionally cut my sister out of existence because it was too painful to cope with. I have to repress my own emotions at times, otherwise I become so depressed that it affects me as a mother and a wife. My six and seven year old daughters saw my sister covered in bruises and know that her husband gave them to her. They know all about domestic violence. We talk about it almost on a weekly basis because I would rather die than have my babies in a situation like my sister's. My faith has been tested and pushed to the very limits. Sometimes I still struggle with anger towards God. How could a loving & gentle God allow this travesty to happen to my sister?
Every holiday, birthday and major milestone event, I wish I could have my sister there to celebrate with. I envy people who have a close relationship with their siblings. I don't think they even realize what a blessing that is.
Jennifer is only one in more than 4 million women who are engulfed in this vicious cycle, every year. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please take action. If you are a victim, get help! Don't be silent! No matter what you have done or who you are, you deserve a happy and healthy life, free from fear. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit thehotline.org.
If you know someone who is in a domestic violent relationship, you can make a difference. Start by educating yourself. Get as much knowledge about domestic violence as you can. Applied knowledge is power! I suggest you read by Susan Brewster. You can also read my other articles that I have written about domestic violence. Educate your community and help raise awareness. "Helping Her Get Free"
If you are one of the few people that hasn't been directly affected by domestic violence, count yourself blessed. And then take action to end this issue. Educate yourself as well. You could read Lundy Bancroft's book Please, share my articles with your friends and family. Support your local battered women's shelter by either donating your time or money. Petition your local government to make the punishment for domestic violence more severe. Did you know that it is a felony in all fifty states to beat a dog but only a misdemeanor to beat your wife? That has to change. "Why Does He Do That?"
I fight for change through my simple articles, because of Jennifer. Every chance I get to raise awareness about domestic violence, I do. I may not be able to help my sister, but if I can help someone else's sister, daughter or friend then it is worth it. I am passionate about this subject and some may say I am obsessed or overzealous. I am proud of that because one day, I want to wish my sister a happy birthday and celebrate life with her.