Some days I just feel compelled to throw out an entry in what I call my “required reading” category. Today’s topic:
Big, bad, ugly words. We like to think that those words don’t apply to us or to people we love because big, bad, ugly things happen in other families, right? It feels better to believe– on this side of things– that we are somehow protected from crazy or impossible situations that we see happen to other people out there in the world. If we thought “that could happen to us” every time we watched the news, then we’d be too fearful and anxious to survive daily life. Makes sense to me.
Still, there are many, many people around us who are in difficult, destructive or dangerous situations. Some are aware of their circumstances, their resources and their options. But many are not.
Because I am a woman and a mother, I’ve decided to address this post specifically to other women like me. But domestic violence can happen to anyone, male or female, single or married, gay or straight. Please be aware that although I’m writing woman-to-woman here in the interest of simple readability, whatever situation you– or your loved ones– may find yourself in, there are resources for you too.
Here’s the truth about domestic violence in the United States:
One in four women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. It takes the average woman 7 times to leave an abusive situation. Domestic violence affects women from all walks of life, all education levels, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all races, religions and sexual orientations. It affects parents of typical kids and parents of kids with special needs.
Domestic violence is not just physical. When one person exerts control over another, when someone is threatened or harrassed or isolated from friends, when one person in a relationship controls all the money in the bank account, for example, or won’t let the other person leave the house when they want to, that’s domestic violence too. Just because nobody physically harmed you, doesn’t mean harm hasn’t been done.
In healthy relationships, people don’t get punished for being who they are.
Just because someone yells and screams or makes statements in a loud, authoritative voice, it doesn’t mean they are right or that they are telling the truth.
Just because someone says, “This is the way it is!” does not mean it has to be that way.
When someone is being mean or abusive and telling you it is your fault they are angry, it is not your fault. No matter what you do, you cannot control their behavior or reactions. Even if you do “everything right” they may still be angry because their anger has to do with *them* not with *you*
Children are smart. They know who really loves them, who has it together and who doesn’t. No matter what someone else tells them about you, if you take a deep breath and focus on being the best parent you can be (and not feeding into the negativity coming from an abusive person), your kids will know what’s true.
If you are seeking LGBT resources for domestic violence, click here for the Rainbow DV page devoted to information, links and support groups.
Local hospitals or women’s centers often have free counseling and/or support groups for women who have been victims of domestic violence.
Other helpful websites:
1-800-799-SAFE (7233) will connect you to safety resources in your area.
If you or someone you love is in a less-than-ideal relationship situation, there is hope for things to get better. Please reach out for help, you are not alone.