October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Each day in the United States, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Every nine seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women – more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Sadly, even with such staggering numbers, domestic violence is underreported as the majority of women abused by their partners never contact the police, shelters, or private organizations for help (www.domesticviolencestatistics.org).
While my focus for this post is on domestic violence in women, men are victimized by domestic violence as well. I will share information regarding domestic violence against men at a later date. Today, I wanted to mention these statistics because it is very important that we recognize how large of a problem domestic violence is in our country. It is a taboo topic for many of us. Victims remain victims because of this. Rather than expose themselves to humiliation or greater harm, they hide behind sunglasses and pseudo-smiles. All domestic violence victims and survivors deserve to have their voice heard. Silence kills.
Throughout this month, I will solicit and feature survivor stories and share them with you. Maybe you will recognize signs in someone that you know and be able to support them in their own fight for survival. Perhaps, you yourself will find strength in a survivor story to empower your own transition from victim to survivor. All stories are real. Names will be withheld.
As children of God, we cannot be okay with abusive behaviors. We cannot excuse them. We cannot ignore them. The bible tells us in Psalm 11:5 that “The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and Him that loveth violence His soul hateth.” This is not to say that it is our job to judge those who afflict violence upon others, but because it is not pleasing in God’s sight, we must stand against it. I urge you to get involved. Share statistics with someone. Donate your time or money. There is much that can be done in the fight against domestic violence.
Take a look at this survivor’s story…
I didn’t even know I was a victim.
I was nineteen years old and I had a new boyfriend. The red flags were there, but I ignored them.
He rushed me into a relationship when I just wanted to be friends. As soon as we became a couple, he immediately became controlling. He took my cell phone whenever the urge hit him, so that he could make sure that I wasn’t talking to anyone else. He continuously called and emailed me to check my whereabouts. He went as far as to stop by my apartment unannounced to make sure I was there.
Somehow, I ignored those warning signs, but I could not ignore the fact that he never took “no” for an answer. He referred to me as his “female,” and he said that it was my job to please him. I tried my best to refuse, but he ended up sexually assaulting and raping me over the course of two days.
After I told a few of our mutual friends about what he did to me, he never contacted me again. That didn’t stop me from living in absolute fear for months afterward. After seeing a therapist at my college, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
I realized that I was a survivor of domestic violence six years later, as I sat in volunteer training for the Durham Crisis Response Center, an organization that is dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
I was once a victim, then I became a survivor, and now…I’m an advocate.