October is domestic violence awareness month, and I wanted to address this issue and possibly provide some education on the subject. Whether or not you are in a relationship, and even if your relationship is healthy and positive, I encourage you to read below FIVE misunderstood truths about domestic violence. Not only can this information help you identify potential victims, but it is good to pass on to friends, relatives, your children, etc.
Note: although I am fully aware men can also be victims of domestic violence, statistics show women with male partners are far more likely to be victimized than men, so for the sake of ease, I use pronouns below accordingly.
1. Domestic violence/abuse is not limited to physical abuse.
Just because he doesn’t punch her doesn’t mean she is not a victim of abuse. Verbal and emotional abuse can be just as damaging, maybe even more than physical abuse.
2. There is no “type.”
Well-educated, affluent women are not immune to domestic violence. Abuse in the home does not necessarily mean you can hear screaming and cussing at each other through the walls of the family next door. It is often very subtle. It might show up as control; over money, time, and people she is allowed to see.
3. Abusers are often master manipulators.
Sometimes what appears to be harmless teasing digs a little too deep. He is often exceptionally good at taking a tiny piece of truth and twisting it into his own story where suddenly he is the victim. She starts second-guessing herself because everyone around her seems to believe this convoluted truth. Everyone believes the abuser. She thinks maybe she is the crazy one. Many victims of abuse have to work at “re-wiring” their brain once they leave.
4. No one falls in love with a jerk.
I’ve actually heard people make comments like, “Wow, way to pick him,” and, “How’d you fall for that guy?” When a woman falls in love with a man like this, he is charming and attentive and kind. He gives gifts, sends sweet texts, and makes her feel special. The ugly creeps in so slowly she might not even notice at first. She won’t see him for what he is until it’s too late. For better understanding of the cycle of abuse, consider the graphic below.
5. “If it’s so bad, why doesn’t she just leave him?”
This question is just dripping with judgement and victim blaming, and yet I hear it all the time. Over half of female homicide victims are killed by intimate partners. OVER HALF! Statistics also show women are seventy times more likely to be killed in the first two weeks after leaving their abusive partner than any other time during their relationship. Those are some scary statistics! If that’s not reason enough for a woman to leave her abuser, consider these other factors:
- Maybe through his forced isolation she has nowhere to go and no one she feels she can turn to.
- Perhaps he has complete financial control.
- What if he can hire a really good lawyer and she’s afraid of losing her kids to him?
- Maybe she is afraid her kids won’t be safe when they have parenting time with him.
Instead of asking why she doesn’t leave him we should be asking why are he and so many other predators out there getting away with this. We should be asking ourselves what we can do to help her and others like her! This October, I hope you will consider these misunderstood truths about domestic violence. If you or someone you know needs help in keeping themselves or their family safe from any kind of abuse, please call 800-799-SAFE or visit the National Coalition of Domestic Violence.
Rachel is a single mom, rebuilding her life after living in an abusive marriage. She hopes to inspire other women to be an example of strength for their children. You can read more about Rachel’s story here.