Domestic violence is never acceptable. We read about it often. I suspect that we work with women who, unknown to us, barely survived the night before. They go through the motions of participation and endurance while their minds are clouded with anxiety and fear.
I never witnessed domestic abuse while growing up or as a young adult. It made sense that if someone abused or beat you down – you simply left. Statistics show that it is not as easy as it sounds. Many victims are dominated and controlled by the abuser. According to Helpguide.org, Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.
This is an excerpt from one of my favorite books, a true story The Struggle of Love:
When I got home Tim was standing in the yard. Before I could open the door, he rushed over to the car, snatched open the door, and pulled me out. “Where the hell have you been?” he yelled. He then pushed me on the car and began to choke me. “Tell me Cheryl, who is it?” Tim asked. He was screaming in rage. He was so mad that he didn’t realize I could not answer because he was still choking me. When Tim removed his hand from around my throat, I was laying against the car trying to recover from almost passing out. Tim was still standing in front of me waiting for the answer about where I was and who I was seeing. When I came to, I managed to look into his eyes and they were red as a flame of fire. I stood up, still a little dizzy from the choking, and I mumbled in a hoarse voice for him to “get away from me,” but he just stood there reaching to choke me again. Somehow, I ducked under his arm and made my way into the house and tried to find the phone to call for help. By the time I found the phone, Tim had snatched the whole phone out of the wall. Then he slapped me so hard that I fell to the floor. He grabbed me by my legs and started dragging me through the house; my lower back was burning from the carpet. I was kicking and screaming for him to stop, but he continued to drag me. I grabbed an ashtray from the end table and continuously hit him on his leg. Finally, I busted him on his knee caps. Then he dropped my legs and screamed out, “Forget you!” I was in a great deal of pain from the struggle, but at the same time I was happy that he could finally feel the same way that I felt.
I got up from the floor and went into the bedroom. I tried to collect my thoughts and find some pain relievers for the excruciating pain that I was feeling. I heard the car crank and when I looked out of the window Tim was leaving out of the driveway. However, before I could get my clothes off to relax, Tim rushed back into the house. I could hear him running down the hallway into the bedroom. End of excerpt
Tim was controlling, angry and reckless with the lives of the people around him. But the author continued to live with him for years.
There are many resources available for women suffering through domestic violence. Most communities have safe havens (shelters) and resources for victims. Check out the following sites for more information: helpguide.org; www.ovw.usdoj.gov/domviolence.htm (U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Violence Against Women.