“Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence.” ~domestic violence statistics from Safe Horizon.
1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
Names and details have been changed for privacy protection.
I looked at myself in the mirror and tried to smile, but I just couldn’t. Every time the corners of my mouth curled up, my eyes just filled with tears. 32 years old. How could this even be possible? How could I have dentures at 32? One word: him. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We were happy once. At least, I think we were. And then we weren’t.
At some point, he started hitting me. At first I thought maybe I deserved it. Maybe I was as bad as he said I was. I was so demoralized. I was so ashamed. I was so scared. Was I really this worthless? Did he define me?
However, one look in my daughter’s eyes told me that those thoughts were complete crud. No one deserves abuse. But what next? Do I fight back? Do I try to leave? What about my daughter and son? How do I protect them? The thing is.. I didn’t have a good answer. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have the strength or confidence to tell anyone… what would they think? How could they help?
So, I took it. I suffered abuse in order to protect my children, in order to plan an airtight escape. That was when the bruises were hidden by clothing. That was when an injury could be explained away as my own clumsiness. When he broke my jaw though.. that I couldn’t hide. That I couldn’t explain away. I had to ask for help. I reached out to a few close friends and family members and they did what they could. However, he still controlled my life. As such, I was denied medical care because he didn’t want to raise suspicions. By the time I was truly able to escape, my teeth and jaw bone were so messed up that I needed dentures.
The cost of my freedom was dentures.
The thing is, I know I am ‘lucky.’ This could have ended tragically.
The Sad Truth About Domestic Violence
The sad truth is that Anne* was correct. Her situation could have ended tragically. I know, because it did end tragically for my friend. One month ago today, my friend was brutally beaten to death by her husband while their three children slept upstairs.
Friends and family members were stunned of course. How could this have happened?
There were no indications of abuse? But abuse hardly ever starts with murder. There were likely subtle signals we didn’t catch.
She was a well-educated woman… and so was her husband! But abuse isn’t relegated to one socio-economic, religious, or racial group.
Why didn’t she tell anyone? Maybe she felt trapped. Maybe she was trying to protect her kids. Perhaps she was ashamed and scared.
In the aftermath of tragedy, we rack our brains, searching for meaning and trying to make sense of something that we cannot comprehend. I know that feeling bad will not bring my friend back. I know that feeling bad won’t give Anne her teeth back. However, by raising awareness perhaps one woman will be spared abuse. Or maybe one woman will seek help to escape an abusive situation one day sooner. Or perhaps a friend or family member will become more sensitive to the subtle clues that something might be wrong.
If you are suffering from domestic abuse, the one thing I want you to know is that You Are Not Alone!
I know you probably feel like you are suffering alone… or that there is no hope. Please know though that your friends and family would absolutely want to help. Of course, maybe you don’t feel like reaching out to them is a safe option. Regardless, here are some resources that are literally a click away. If you are suffering from domestic abuse, please don’t suffer alone. Please reach out and seek help.
You are valuable. You don’t deserve this. There is hope.
- The Domestic Abuse Hotline is exactly what it says it is- an abuse hotline for victims and a resource of information for victims and other concerned individuals. The number for the hotline itself is: 1-800-799-7233/1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
- The Joyful Heart Foundation is a great resource that helps victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and rape, and child abuse and neglect.
- NO MORE specifically focuses on domestic violence and raises awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault.
- The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence provides support and information, including information about domestic violence shelters.
- Safe Horizon helps victims of domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, and homelessness among youth.
Thanks for reading and please share this post and this message. Let’s raise awareness to spare even one more victim of domestic violence even one more day of abuse. Perhaps it may even save a life.
*names and details were changed to protect the privacy and safety of those involved.