We must talk…
About domestic abuse
My husband, Roger, and I often teased that he would never hit me because my father, Big John, was more than 6 feet tall, had hands like baseball gloves and was a no-nonsense-kind –of-guy. In reality, he was a gentle giant who died 12 years ago, though I still brag about his spirit protecting me, but domestic abuse is no joke. I am blessed that Roger is much like my father– generous and kind, and thankfully I have never experienced the fits of rage, insane jealousy, mind games, or the vicious cycle of apologies/ beatings/more apologies/more beatings that are the hallmark of abusers. Nevertheless, October is Domestic Abuse Prevention Month, so like the airport signs remind us: “If you see something, say something.”
The numbers are staggering. According to domesticviolencestatistics.org, “every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise.” The Huffington Post calls it an epidemic and reports that “women are much more likely to be victims of intimate partner violence with 85 percent… of victims being women and 15 percent being men. Yes, men can be and are abused — I saw it one day at the mall and it wasn’t pretty. A woman in rollers and house shoes (already on my “she was wrong for that” list) talked so ugly to her husband, everyone in the store froze and helplessly watched. After loudly and liberally berating and humiliating him, she exhausted herself and left. We all painfully avoided eye contact as he sheepishly headed for the door.
Abuse comes in all shapes and sizes– especially financially, physically and emotionally. We might ask why don’t these people just leave? Researchers say it takes at least seven episodes before victims get the nerve and means to leave; their abuser cuts them off from family, friends, financial and other support, shatters their self-esteem and convinces them that they’re all alone. Once that’s done, the rest is easy. Abusers will often use their children as a weapon or leverage.
This month consider choosing something from this list to change these sad statistics:
- Talk to your daughter, granddaughter, sister, girlfriend, niece, aunt, grandmother –all the teens and tweens you know so they don’t get caught in this vicious cycle. Adolescent and teen boys are beating their “girlfriends” as early as seventh and eighth grade.
- Wear your “abuse antenna” so if someone’s new significant other is just too sweet, too nice or in too big of a hurry to be in love, you can add a word or two of caution– lovebirds are usually too smitten to see an abuser until it’s too late.
- Don’t confront abusers alone or encourage the abused to leave if this might create a more dangerous situation.
- Help victims fund an emergency escape/survival/sustainability plan to avoid homelessness, and alert their employer so extra workplace safety measures are in place. An “If I can’t have you, nobody can” mentality drives so many abusers and when they have nothing to lose, they can be very dangerous.
Like the scriptures, statistics will say whatever you like if you manipulate them but all the numbers can’t be wrong—domestic abuse is an epidemic and it leaves too many innocents fighting for their lives, dignity and families simply because they loved the wrong person. We must be vigilant this month and all year, and that’s no joke.