October is domestic violence awareness month. For so long, I wondered why anyone would stay in an abusive relationship. You’ve probably wondered that too. Working at Clarity and meeting the incredible and strong women we serve has opened my eyes- anyone can become the victim of domestic violence. And it is SO much harder than I ever imagined before to get out. Our goal today? Spread awareness of domestic violence and compassion for its’ victims.
A complicated task
The reality that most don’t understand is that leaving an abusive relationship is often an enormous task. It is very complex when you love the one who is hurting you. Can you imagine if someone you have built your life with turned violent? Most operate on hope that it will get better. And usually, the abuse isn’t constant, so you are a normal couple in between the abusive episodes. You go to dinner, watch TV, go to the kids soccer games, and all is fine. You have hope that it won’t happen again.
A dangerous task
Leaving a partner who is emotionally, mentally, or physically abusive can also put the victim in even more danger. When children are involved, unless abuse is documented, the abusive partner will likely share custody. Abusers also isolate their partners away from everyone…friends, family, coworkers. Victims of domestic abuse begin to feel that no one would even care or be willing to help. They also fear that if they reach out, their abuser will kill them and their entire family, and they believe them because they have seen what they are capable of. Sadly, even restraining orders are often not enough for many abusers.
See? More complex than you thought.
One woman said:
“During those years I considered leaving several times, but one thing stopped me, my children. I was concerned he would get some custody and would be alone with them.”
“Before the abuse got too bad, I stayed because I thought it was better for the kids to have 2 parents around. Then, I stayed because of fear- I knew he would kill me.”
These women speak to the rapid progression of their abuse:
“At first he was just verbally abusive. Telling me I was ugly, name calling, manipulation. Eventually it turned into him shooting me up with heroin repeatedly for a week, isolating me in the woods, and repeatedly beating me. I can’t believe I’m even alive.”
“I left him, but then I had no money. They took my car, threatened to take the house I couldn’t afford. He said if I came back he would fix everything, and he did. Things were wonderful again until they weren’t. Then there was an incident with my son, and I left this time for good. Two months later he showed up at my apartment with a gun and shot me twice. It’s a miracle I’m alive.”
Maybe you’re reading this and completely understand why many never leave- because you’re one of those women in a harmful relationship.
We are here.
You can talk to us.
There is hope for you. Here in central Kentucky, we have an incredible resource in SpringHaven. They can provide a real way out with real resources and solutions. This is just one incredible testimony to their services:
“He beat me for hours and then he grabbed a rope, tied it around my neck and hung me from a rafter in the basement. My toes left the floor and I blacked out. The next thing I knew, I was laying on the basement floor and my son was asking ‘Mommy, you okay?’ My son had pushed my husband and saved my life. I ended up at the door of SpringHaven. I was at a point in my life where I wanted to give up. SpringHaven made sure I didn’t. They got me back on my feet, gave me the will to live and I got my confidence back. I stayed at SpringHaven for several months. Now, I have a car, a good job and a comfortable home for me and my kids. If it hadn’t been for SpringHaven, I don’t know what would have happened to me.” A Former Resident 2010
And if you simply just couldn’t understand why people get in and stay in these relationships, maybe now you do. Statistics show that you likely know someone personally who is a victim of domestic violence. Pay attention, ask questions, be compassionate, and, if needed, provide resources.
Oh and forgoodnesssake, don’t be the person that comments on Facebook videos portraying domestic violence, “That woman is disgusting! I would never stay in/let me children be around that kind of relationship.”
If we work together, we can help “that woman” get away a little easier.