October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Let's Not Forget...
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Politics and Activism

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Let's Not Forget...

I've been through hell and back, and nothing will ever be as traumatic as an abusive relationship.

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Let's Not Forget...

I've been through hell and back, and nothing will ever be as traumatic as an abusive relationship.


According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional or psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically.

Seven years have passed since I got the balls to walk out on my six-year-long marriage. I wasn't sure what would happen when I grabbed my three-year-old son at the time and left. Honestly, I wasn't sure we would even get out alive. Domestic Violence is one of those silent causes that very few aren't afraid to speak about. It sometimes takes many years for survivors to even come to terms with what they have been through. More times often than not, survivors of domestic violence are diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or anxiety disorder or depression. I have been diagnosed with all three. My son has also been diagnosed with all three. You see, people think that it is easy to just get up and leave your life behind and run. "Run," they tell you. "Run as fast as you can, go to a shelter, you can find someone who will take you in. Why don't you just leave?!"

I beg you all, if you have told a friend, classmate, or family member to do any of these things, stop it! Stop it right now!

One of the most common questions people ask about victims of domestic violence is, “Why don’t they just leave?” People stay in abusive relationships for a variety of reasons including:

• The victim fears the abuser’s violent behavior will escalate if (s)he tries to leave.

• The abuser has threatened to kill the victim, the victim’s family, friends, pets, children and/or himself/herself.

. • The victim loves his/her abuser and believes (s)he will change.

• The victim believes abuse is a normal part of a relationship.

• The victim is financially dependent on the abuser.

• The abuser has threatened to take the victim’s children away if (s)he leaves.

• The victim wants her/his children to have two parents.

• The victim’s religious and/or cultural beliefs preclude him/her from leaving.

• The victim has low self-esteem and believes (s)he is to blame for the abuse. • The victim is embarrassed to let others know (s)he has been abused.

• The victim has nowhere to go if (s)he leaves.

• The victim fears retribution from the abuser’s friends and/or family.

For more information, visit www.ncadv.org.

If you are in an abusive relationship, the last thing you want to hear is how you can just run away from it. It's not that simple for a victim to do. You are living in a vicious cycle where your abuser has more than likely taken away your family, friends, money, and any freedom you have.

Once that part is done, then they will twist and sculpt your mind into believing what they tell you.

Some examples of this might be: "If you leave, I will kill you, If you leave I will take our son and run away to another country and you will never find us. Don't try to leave because you won't make it out alive. You can't go to school; you aren't smart enough for that; you will just fail"

After so many months or years of hearing these things, you believe it. You believe that you are dumb, that you are fat, that you will die if you try to leave, or that he/she will try to kidnap your child(ren).

Now someone tries to come in and take you right out of that situation in a forcible manner. As a victim of domestic violence, you shut down. You've been shut off for so long from contact with friends and family and anyone that could care about you that you suddenly feel as if this person who may very well be trying to help, is ripping you from your home and stripping you of all you are, forcing you to change your environment and everything you have known up until that point. You resist, for fear that you might be killed, or at the very least if he/she finds out about it, will beat you until the sun comes up and they get tired.

The cycle continues.

Unless you have truly lived through it as a victim or survivor of domestic violence, you will never know the pain, fear, agony, and hopelessness known as domestic violence.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. It happens to all genders, races, creeds, religions, and socio-economic statuses.

• Every nine seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten.

• In the United States, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually.

• 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner.

• 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner.

• 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked. Stalking causes the target to fear she/he or someone close to her/him will be harmed or killed.

• On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive approximately 20,800 calls.

Domestic violence affects everyone. It stays with you, and it never really goes away, no matter how many years have passed by. You are always aware of who is around you or behind you. You may become panic stricken if you see a violent situation start to unfold or if you suddenly notice even a semi-abusive trait in your new partner.

Years later, I am stronger than I ever have been in my life, but I fought tooth and nail to become her. Underneath this warrior of strength shield that I hold, is a woman who was afraid to lose her child to an abusive alcoholic, years of counseling, countless nights of conversation and crying to my friends on anniversaries of the day I left or the day we got divorced, panic attacks, anxiety medication, endless court dates, and fear of being alone at night.

Underneath this shield I wear, is a woman who would incessantly answer yes to everything that was asked of her, no matter how demeaning it may have been. Underneath this shield was a free spirited, courageous, adventurous, smart, complex, and unique individual. One that was hidden in me all my life. Underneath this shield, was the undying burning passion in me to want to make others lives better, to make a difference, and give freely of my time and talents to help those who needed it more than I did.

I have risen up from what happened to me, so far up, that I am above it.

So far up, that now my time is spent helping those who need to get out of an abusive relationship, or have previously been in one. I started a club up at my college called the B.C.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence. We meet every other week and act as a support group for each other, where we can do homework and study, or just talk. We also hold events such as The Clothesline Project, White Ribbon Campaign, and the It's On Us pledge to end sexual assault on campus, which was started by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. We have extended out into the community, and have been manning tables at community events and spreading the word.

When I look back on where I was all these years ago, I never ever imagined I would be at this point in my life. This is why I work to advocate for those who don't have a voice. It might not sink in today, it might not quite help them tomorrow, but eventually, they will come back and they will call out for help.

And as long as I am here, I am ready to help them.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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