I have a very sensitive and important subject to talk about, and that is domestic violence. I hate it when I have to go all “serious” on my readers but this subject is very near to my heart because my mother, in the 1950’s, was the victim of domestic violence. By the time he started hitting her, she was pregnant.
In the fifties, it was not okay for a woman to be divorced, much less divorced and pregnant or with a child. But, she had the balls to leave him anyway. She moved back with her parents and stayed married until the baby was born. Then she divorced him. She eventually met my father, who was a good and gentle man. He adopted the baby and the prick who was the sperm donor was out of her life for good.
All my young life, my mother told me, “You never let a man hit you. Ever.” I never questioned that. I’m pleased to say no man ever has. I bruise easily, though, and my ex-husband used to say, because of the bruises I carry around on my legs, “People will think I beat you.” I told him this:
“Anyone who knows me knows you don’t beat me, because you’re still fucking BREATHING.”
Today I found out someone I love very much got into a domestic violence situation. She is very young and truthfully I’ve always thought she was too good for the guy she was with. Now I KNOW she is. I asked her if he hit her, she said no, “he just threw me around.” She is sore in her back and arms now. A relative is on the way to get her, while that asshole is sleeping. I am trying to convince her to come stay with me. I’m trying to convince her to press charges against him, and she won’t do it.
I’m writing this mostly so she will read it, and if another woman out there hears what I am saying and it helps her, well, I will have accomplished my goal of trying to stop the spread of this hideous behavior.
Here are some very important facts to realize:
- Women ages 18 to 34 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
- More than 4 million women experience physical assault and rape by their partners.
- 1 in 3 female homicide victims are murdered by their current or former partner every year.
- Most women brought to emergency rooms due to domestic violence were socially isolated and had few social and financial resources.
- On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
- On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
- In domestic violence homicides, women are six times more likely to be killed when there is a gun in the house.
- Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
- Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.
Signs of Domestic Violence
Does your partner
- Accuse you of cheating and being disloyal?
- Make you feel worthless?
- Hurt you by hitting, choking or kicking you?
- Intimidate and threaten to hurt you or someone you love?
- Threaten to hurt themselves if they don’t get what they want?
- Try to control what you do and who you see?
- Isolate you?
- Pressure or force you into unwanted sex?
- Control your access to money?
- Stalk you, including calling you constantly or following you?
If you answered “yes” to any of these, you most probably are a victim of domestic violence.
Here are even more signs of this behavior:
- Telling the victim that they can never do anything right
- Showing jealousy of the victim’s family and friends and time spent away
- Accusing the victim of cheating
- Keeping or discouraging the victim from seeing friends or family members
- Embarrassing or shaming the victim with put-downs
- Controlling every penny spent in the household
- Taking the victim’s money or refusing to give them money for expenses
- Looking at or acting in ways that scare the person they are abusing
- Controlling who the victim sees, where they go, or what they do
- Dictating how the victim dresses, wears their hair, etc.
- Stalking the victim or monitoring their victim’s every move (in person or also via the internet and/or other devices such as GPS tracking or the victim’s phone)
- Preventing the victim from making their own decisions
- Telling the victim that they are a bad parent or threatening to hurt, kill, or take away their children
- Threatening to hurt or kill the victim’s friends, loved ones, or pets
- Intimidating the victim with guns, knives, or other weapons
- Pressuring the victim to have sex when they don’t want to or to do things sexually they are not comfortable with
- Forcing sex with others
- Refusing to use protection when having sex or sabotaging birth control
- Pressuring or forcing the victim to use drugs or alcohol
- Preventing the victim from working or attending school, harassing the victim at either, keeping their victim up all night so they perform badly at their job or in school
- Destroying the victim’s property
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
If you are being abused by your partner, know there is nothing you have done or are doing to cause the abuse. It is solely the choice of the abuser to abuse. It may seem impossible to escape your abuser, change your circumstances, or find the help you need, but it is possible. However, you know your abuser best, so think carefully through your situation and circumstances and do what is the best for you.
While the information that follows may be helpful to you, please know it is not meant to be used as the only information you need to get and stay safe, nor is it inclusive of all the information you may need. It is critical that you connect with someone knowledgeable about domestic violence that can help you create a safety plan specifically for you, your family, and your specific needs.
Plan ahead where you can go if the abuser shows signs of escalating. Make a list of safe people to contact (DV program, friends, relatives, attorney, and important persons/services). Have numbers for local domestic violence programs. Pack and have ready a bag or suitcase of essentials, including medications.
Obtain and secure personal documents and information for you, and if you have children, for them as well: birth certificates, driver’s license, social security cards, immunization records, passports, licenses, bank accounts, debit and credit cards, checkbooks, W-2s, paystubs, insurance cards and policies, school records, clothing, and keys. Any documentation that you might have about the abuse, pictures, recordings, medical records, and police reports are also very important to have. Include cash if you can and any other valuable that you don’t want to leave behind. Keep in mind that large items like furniture might not be possible to hide.
Find a safe place to hide these—with a friend, relative, and/or another place the abuser cannot access.
If you are in the home during an incident:
- Avoid rooms with no exits, like bathrooms and closets. Also, avoid rooms with weapons, like the kitchen.
- Get to a room with a door or a window to escape.
- If it is possible, lock the abuser outside. Call 911.
- Get medical attention if you are hurt.
- If you have contact with the police, get the name and badge number of the officer(s).
- Contact a domestic violence program, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233), or go to a safehouse.
Finally, please remember that you are worth MORE than this! Your life matters and it should be treasured and respected and loved, not abused.