Thursday, October 9, 2008

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence is an issue that I hold close to my heart. I have known friends and family who have fallen victim to or were the victimizers of domestic violence. I have a cousin who was murdered by her husband because she did not get out of their abusive relationship. Two of my aunts were in physically and psychologically abusive marriages, though they were fortunately able to escape and live a better life. The saddest thing about domestic violence, as an outsider, is that the people watching this happen can really only stand back and wait for the victim to reach out for help and pray like hell that help can reach them in time.

Domestic violence is more than physical abuse. It is also mental, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological abuse. It can affect anyone from young to old, light to dark skinned, male to female, rich to poor. Domestic violence does not discriminate. It can even lie dormant until something snaps or it can be present from the beginning of a relationship. It can be hard to identify or it can be blatantly obvious. There are so many different levels of domestic violence that you can be a victim without realizing it.

Studies show that victims of domestic violence are afraid to leave that relationship. Be it monetary reason or fear for their life, victims feel that it is safer to suffer the abuse rather than escape the abuse. Unfortunately, this decision can only end on a sad note, as in my cousin’s case. Victims begin to feel that being abused is their lot in life or that they deserve it for whatever reasons. Some victims, especially women, fall under the category of pathological fixers who believe that they can still change the other person or the relationship.

There is help! If you are a victim of domestic violence, tell someone or call the hotline. Share with your best friend or trusted confidant or favorite relative that you don’t feel safe or comfortable in your relationship. People are your friends for a reason and family whether you like it or not and they all care about you. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone that you know, call up the hotline. It’s anonymous and confidential and the person’s a complete stranger who’s trained to help you. Even if you are the victimizer, share your concern with someone else. The first step to getting out of an abusive relationship is to seek help.

For the friends and family of victims and victimizers of domestic abuse, you can help too. Simply being supportive of your person can help immensely. Be helpful and earnest but not judgmental when asked for advice or help. It’s your person who’s suffering, not you, so be there for them and keep your comments to yourself. But most importantly, use good judgment in whatever situation arises that you are included in. The hotline is also available for friends and family to call for advice and guidance.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224