Who doesn’t love a good fairytale? You know the ones! Where the charming Prince woos the beautiful working-class woman, and transforms her life by making her his princess. As the movie ends, the Prince and Princess kiss under a sky of fireworks and go on to live “happily ever after”! It’s not a bad life to aspire to by any means. But what we don’t get to see is what happens after that magical kiss. Life, unfortunately, isn’t always the fairytale that we’ve seen in the movies. And in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it’s time to get real about the dirty little secret that no one wants to talk about.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DOESN’T JUST HAPPEN TO WOMEN!
Statistics show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience domestic abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Domestic violence does NOT discriminate. It cuts across all racial, religious, socioeconomic, and demographic lines. Women, and men who are victims of domestic violence are most often reluctant to talk about it for fear of being judged as weak, or even worse, they feel they deserve it. Men can be overlooked and are largely silent because of perception and fear of ridicule. Many may feel as though they’ve put so much on the line, and are embarrassed to admit that their once absolutely amazing relationship has gone horribly wrong.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CAN BE BOTH PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL
Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. Physical abuse can be easier to identify and many believe it to be more damaging because it leaves behind reminders in the form of scars and/or permanent injuries. Sexual abuse is a form of physical abuse. Any situation in which you are forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity, even with an intimate partner or spouse, is an act of aggression and violence! But abuse does not always leave you physically battered and bruised. Emotional abuse bears scars of their own. Yelling, name-calling, blaming, isolation, shaming, intimidation, and controlling behavior all fall under the umbrella of verbal and emotional abuse. It can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety, PTSD, and depression, and can make you feel helpless and alone. Both forms of abuse aim to inspire Fear and gain control.
RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS
It’s impossible to be certain of what happens behind closed doors. But there are many signs that someone you care about may be in an abusive relationship. If they seem afraid or anxious to please their partner or receive frequent, harassing phone calls from them. If they have frequent injury causing “accidents”, or begin to isolate themselves and become depressed, anxious or suicidal. Quitting a job they once loved, or dropping out of the school they worked so hard to get in to. These are just a few of a long list of red flags.
SPEAK UP IF YOU SUSPECT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OR ABUSE
As uncomfortable as it may be, if you feel as though someone in your life may be a victim of abuse, you have to speak up! If you’re hesitating, telling yourself you’re minding your business or that you don’t want to be wrong, that’s all understandable! Abusers wreak havoc on a person’s self-esteem and leave them feeling as though no one cares or they won’t be believed! They’re drained, ashamed, and scared to ask for help. But listen…expressing your concerns from a place of love might just save his or her life! Do so without judgement, listen, and support them because leaving an abusive partner can be more complicated than it seems.
No one deserves to be in a relationship where they are being abused! If you are currently living through it I know that it may be hard to see a way out. I can’t promise you that it will be easy, but I can promise that you are worth it! You will have a long journey of healing but it is possible to get your identity, and your sense of freedom back.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, please call National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.