Let There Be Light
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence victims are not exclusively female, exclusively heterosexual, or exclusively any particular race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
There are a lot of statistics about domestic violence, but here are two that I’d like to discuss today:
• More than 90% of Americans fail to define repeated emotional, verbal, sexual abuse and controlling behaviors as patterns of domestic violence and abuse.*
• More than half of Americans (54%) say they may have been in situations where they believed domestic violence had occurred, but they didn't act because they were not sure what to do.*
Sexual assault (including rape) and physical violence (punching, kicking, choking, etc.) are abusive behaviors. But many other abusive behaviors are often overlooked, such as:
• coercion/controlling behavior
You should never feel unsafe with or afraid of your partner. If your partner defies your clearly articulated boundaries (they come over when you tell them not to, they call you and text you repeatedly after you ask them not to, they refuse to acknowledge that you broke up with them), that is abuse. If your partner verbally belittles or berates you (curses at you, screams at you, tells you what to wear, is possessive/jealous, repeatedly calls you “crazy” or “oversensitive”), that is abuse. If your partner traps you or prevents you from leaving situations (takes away your car keys, blocks the door, physically restrains you), that is abuse. If your partner monitors your emails and texts, isolates you from others, controls your finances, or threatens to harm themselves if you leave, that is abuse.
You don’t have to live like that, and you don’t deserve to be treated like that. No one should ever be made to feel afraid in their relationship, their workplace or their home.
If you find yourself in any of the above situations, I urge you to seek the help of a professional trained to deal with domestic violence and abuse.
If you know someone that you suspect is the victim of domestic violence or abuse, I urge you not to remain silent. Perhaps you are the only one who has noticed, and perhaps yours could be the voice that turns a victim into a survivor.
Get help: The National Domestic Violence Hotline: https://www.thehotline.org/
If you would like to help victims of domestic violence, there are many wonderful nonprofits offering services to victims that could use your support. You can donate goods or money, or volunteer your time. Here is one such fantastic organization:
Be safe, dear readers, and I hope that everyone in your life treats you with the respect and kindness that you deserve.
All my best,
* Source: Liz Claiborne, Inc. (2006). Bystander Survey 2006.