Trigger Warning: This post and the book referenced in it can be triggering for anyone with experience of domestic violence, child abuse, or sexual abuse. Please use care.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. About every 15 seconds, a person is assaulted by an intimate partner in the United States! Another way to look at it: “Every day, there are almost 20 people a minute that are physically abused by someone close to them.” (Domestic Violence: It’s Everybody’s Business)
This is truly heartbreaking. Most domestic violence happens behind closed doors, but even if family and/or friends know about the violence, they usually stay silent. They stay silent because they think it’s a personal matter. That it’s none of their business.
For too long, this terrorism has gone on. Most victims are women, but anyone can find themselves in an abusive relationship. Children caught in this ugliness grow up with many challenges, assuming they don’t become victims of the violence themselves. Many abusers will use children, and even pets, to control and intimidate their partners.
Unfortunately, I understand what it’s like to be in an abusive relationship. We think of home as our safe place, but for too many of us, it’s not safe. I’ve been out of that relationship for 17 years. The impact on my children has been heart-breaking and continues to this day.
We think domestic violence only affects the partner/children being abused. In reality, violence at home impacts our whole society in ever-widening circles. According to a 2017 report by Everytown for Gun Safety, 54% of the mass shootings in the US started as family violence.
Domestic Violence Book: No Visible Bruises
Rachel Louise Snyder in her book No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us, explores in detail the following facts.
- On average, 137 women are killed every day by an intimate partner across the globe! This doesn’t include children or men.
- Men are less likely to be killed by their female partners… “in states in the United States where ‘we have good domestic violence laws and resources.’ When women feel they have a way out of an abusive relationship, they are less likely to resort to violence themselves.
- The single biggest risk of domestic murder is prior domestic violence.
- Women are at the greatest risk of being killed when they try to leave an abuser.
- If a man is willing to strangle you, he will kill you one day.
- Only 15% of women who are strangled have visible evidence of the event, so it is often downplayed by police and medical providers. ):
- Love-at-first-sight relationships are a “hallmark of private violence.”
- Our cultural expectations for how women and men are supposed to act has a direct influence on domestic violence.
- Abuse doesn’t happen all at once, it “leaks out slowly over time like radon.”
- “Fifty thousand women around the world were killed by partners or family members in 2017 alone.”
- The presence of a gun in a home increases the chance of it being used against a partner. “When there’s the presence of a gun in the home, the risk of homicide is increased by over 500% where domestic violence is taking place.” (Domestic Violence: It’s Everybody’s Business)
- Guns are used by abusers to intimidate, control, and sometimes kill.
Domestic Violence & Disabilities
“Research suggests that women with disabilities are more likely to experience domestic violence, emotional abuse, and sexual assault than women without disabilities.” This info comes from the following article: Violence Against Women With Disabilities
Domestic violence towards a woman with disabilities can take the same forms as for non-disabled women, as well as in ways that take advantage of the person’s disability. For example, withholding pain medication, food, finances, or help with personal care tasks.
The following two articles cover this topic in more detail:
Domestic abuse may include financial abuse. Financial abuse is “controlling a victim’s ability to earn, use or maintain money.” (Navigating Financial Help When Leaving An Abusive Relationship) This control can prevent the victim from getting a job, handling all money tasks without including the victim, or making the victim account for every penny they spend. “99% of domestic violence survivors reported experiencing economic abuse. It’s not a surprising number: financial control is a major lever for an abuser that gives them all the more power over the victim.”
All quotes in this paragraph are from Navigating Financial Help When Leaving An Abusive Relationship. See this article for more info: Navigating Financial Help When Leaving An Abusive Relationship
If the Bible and your faith were used as a weapon by your abuser, you may be struggling with your relationship with God. I’ve created a devotional called Shattered to Whole: Devotions for Healing from Domestic Abuse to help untangle this confusion and promote healing. Read more about it here: Clearing up Spiritual Confusion after Domestic Abuse
Leaving an abusive situation can be very difficult, but it can be done. With a lot of help from my local women’s shelter and a few friends and family members, and God, I left my abusive marriage with 6 children. Get in touch with your local women’s shelter or the Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE or Text START to 88788. You can also go to their webpage to chat at https://www.thehotline.org/get-help/
These resources can help you develop a plan to leave safely. Remember that phone logs and computer history can reveal your plan to leave. Use someone else’s phone, or learn how to erase your call and computer search history.
In an emergency, use 911 in the United States to get emergency help. Try to remain as calm as you can when talking to police. Sadly, too many of them don’t know how to recognize abuse, and will accept the abuser’s statements that the victim has mental health problems. Especially if he is calm and you are hysterical. For this reason, you need to speak as calmly as you can. I know it sucks, but knowledge is power in this situation.
The following video discusses two powerful, easy techniques to calm yourself down quickly.
Finally, this is a distressing subject to think about, but if we don’t talk about it, nothing will change. Violence or abuse is NEVER okay in our families. Domestic violence grows in silence and isolation. Please don’t be part of the problem for someone you love. Don’t contribute to violence and abuse by pretending what you see isn’t your problem.
If you know someone in a violent domestic relationship, please don’t mind your own business. My abuser did things that I didn’t know about with our children. My parents knew about his unsafe behavior with our children and said nothing to me. I didn’t find out about it until after I left my abuser! When I think about how much misery they could have prevented if someone in my family would have opened their mouth, it makes my blood boil.
If you’d like more resources and to read my story click here: https://www.upbeatliving.net/domestic-violence-awareness/
If you’d like to read the stories of other domestic abuse survivors, click here: https://www.upbeatliving.net/two-powerful-domestic-violence-recovery-stories/
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Till next time, Kathy