There are many things to be thankful for over the holiday, however, there are many struggling to find even one thing to be happy about as their lives seem to shatter right before their eyes. Domestic violence is a very real and increasingly common epidemic in the U.S. and all over the world. I have been UNFORTUNATE to observe and evaluate situations in it's tracks recently and I have noted a lot of things upon viewing real life situations as they are occurring. Knowledge is power - The only way to advocate is by being educated!
1. Family Violence
Family violence, also called domestic violence, intimate partner violence, relationship violence or inter-personal violence, is a pattern of intentionally violent or controlling behavior used by a person against a family member or intimate partner to gain and maintain power and control over that person, during and/or after the relationship. An intimate partner may be a married or dating couple or joined in domestic partnership.
Some examples of “intentionally violent or controlling behavior” include:
control over someone’s schedule
doesn’t allow access to the phone and/or monitors calls
limits use of the car or doesn’t allow a car
persistent calling at work to check up or not allowing someone to work
doesn’t permit use of birth control
name calling and / or threatening family, friends, pets
destruction of property
Notice that the above examples are non-physical. “Intentionally violent or controlling behavior” can include physical abuse (hitting, punching, strangling, etc.) but does not have to. Other types of “intentionally violent or controlling behavior” include sexual abuse, economic or financial abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, stalking and isolation. Notice also the timeframe mentioned in the definition, “and/or after.” The violent or controlling behavior may not (and usually does not) end after the relationship is over. This is one reason that “leaving” is not as simple as it may seem and does not mean that the abuse is ultimately over.
2. Domestic Violence Often Becomes Two-Sided
In the situation I have recently observed and in so many others, I have noticed that the abused often takes on the role of the abuser after being affected physically, mentally and psychologically for so long. The abused tends to feel empowered by knowing what the first "move" of the abuser is going to be so they act FIRST to regain the strength that they have once lost to their abuser. There are certain signs that the abused tends to identify as to when something is going to take place and their abuser is going to attack them. The abused will often grow weary of the abuse and find methods to fight back, before it is too late. This tactic becomes a battle between the two and begins a series of dual partner violence.
3. Family Ties vs. Family Fights
There are often times where, as family, we do not know when to walk away from being a part of a cycle in which we feel the abused or the abuser has no intention of walking away from. It is not that they do not want to, but they have failed to realize the unhealthiness of the relationship and do not know how to walk away. I am speaking from the perspective of being a family member of the actual abuser. When does it become acceptable NOT to run to the scene of the incident? Especially when you do not condone what is happening and have ties with the abused as it tends to be a person whom has been around the family for years? Then, involving the fact that the two-side violence becomes three-sided because the family member is uncertain as to how to help either party as they are both at the point of attacking each other. The part that hurts everyone involved the most is that 9 times out of 10 the abused and the abuser remain together in a relationship. This places family in yet another difficult situation as to what they can do when this violence occurs again, because YES, it does happen again! Does the family member stay away when called to break up these fights? Do they call the police at the risk of both parties being upset for them doing so? As a family member of this intense and ongoing abuse, there is no answer to this. Family sometimes has a hard decision to make in whether to be there and watch it over and over in the event that the abused will just NOT leave the abuser, or they can continuously be to blame by the abused as they have been manipulated by the abuser to believe that the family needs to "mind their own business". There is a time when we have to realize that we cannot save those who do not long for saving! Yes, we care and yes, we will try continuously to be heard, but ultimately, it is up to the abused as to what their next move will be. We can only be a resource when needed and we can not place blame on ourselves for a decision that a family member chooses to continue to make. Sometimes family must be there for each other... Just from a distance!
4. When Leaving Isn't Enough
The myth that leaving a relationship is the end all/say all of the relationship is not always reality. In any form of violence, there is some sort of emotion that has triggered the violence to the extent in which it has come about. These emotions are not often solely relieved once the violence has occurred, especially in the event that there are children involved or some other ties in which both parties share responsibility. It is almost certain that the abuser will feel empowered and superior for his/her actions that causes the pain and/or injury to the other party. It is important that a plan is put in place for situations that may occur after one grows the strength to leave. Not simply planning for physical situations that may take place, but also for the emotional and psychological effects this may have! Many who have never experienced domestic abuse may think it is easy to just walk away and never look back, but those who have been in the situation know better. The changes one many experience vary - Here are a few reasons the abused tend to stay:
- Fear of being alone
- Thinking THIS is what love is
- Family Influence
- Lack of outside resources to support her/himself (job, money, friends, family, etc.)
- Immigration status / Deportation
- Cultural considerations
- Religious beliefs
There are so many other reasons as to why people stay in unhealthy relationships, however, the strength one must have to leave is minimal to the strength they must have to remain absent and distant from their abuser's presence.
5. Your Chance Is NOW
If you were able to open your eyes this morning, it is because the Lord blessed you with yet another chance to take a leap of faith! It is time to remove yourself from those who mean you nothing but harm. Time to think of your children and those around you whom this relationship or situation is hurting and most importantly, think of yourself and what you have to offer to the RIGHT mate! Love is not abuse and the abuse does not stop! This Thanksgiving I am thankful for being able to reach out and share my take on what a holiday miracle truly is... It is you! For everyone woman/man who is struggling with this decision of walking away or to stay, I want you to ask yourself 3 questions! Question 1: What advice would you give your child if he/she was a victim of domestic abuse? Question 2: Who/What have you lost in this relationship due to domestic violence? Question 3: If you stay, will you
be alive to see next Thanksgiving?
Now is the time to make a choice because tomorrow, you may be unable to read this! Domestic violence is no laughing matter and nothing to be taken lightly. Tomorrow is not promised and as a friend of a person I recently lost to domestic violence, I say know your resources, formulate your plan and take a stand. Your family doesn't deserve to see you like this, your children do not deserve to see you like this and YOU do not deserve to be treated like this! Know your worth because it is much larger than you may value it at! You ARE Women Enuff!!!