I come from a long line of “If you hit me I will kill your ass!” women. Because of how I’ve seen them react to situations that became abusive or violent I was never afraid to ghost anyone who showed signs of abusive tendencies. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the women in my family taught me that I could beat a mans ass if he got violent or abusive. They didn’t. What they did teach me is abuse is about power and control more than anything else. If a person is looking for someone to control and abuse they’ll probably pick people they would have an easier time controlling.
In all of my hubris and young girl wisdom, those things sound so foreign and far removed from me and my life. But, I soon learned there is more to domestic violence or abuse than just the slap or punch. There is also the threat of physical violence, stalking, the threat of sexual violence, emotional or psychological abuse, as well as financial abuse.
Or, they were until I really thought about it. I know people who have been stalked by an ex-boy friend. I’ve been stalked by an ex-boyfriend. I remember standing by a window watching him drive past my house over and over again. I stayed there all night, afraid he would park somewhere and try to get into my house. He had sent me texts and emails saying he would do just that. He called me over thirty times in a day and watched who came to and from my house. I didn’t think of it as domestic violence. I thought it was stalker behavior but not abuse. I had a good friend who’s husband was physically abused her for many years. I witnessed the black eyes, bruises and unexplained broken bones. That was my idea of abuse.
I’m not comparing some phone calls and threats to broken bones. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying it could happen to anyone. My inherited “kick ass” attitude didn’t stop my stalker – and it wouldn’t stop a bigger and stronger man from hurting me. That stalking encounter caused me to think differently about people who experience domestic abuse. It erased the line between “people like me” and “people like them”. Anyone of us could find ourselves in a violent or abusive relationship. But, we don’t talk about it, sometimes we don’t even call it what it is.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, every minute about twenty people are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. And 47.1% of young women are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four when they have their first experience rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner, NISVS 2010. It happens to men as well. One in seven men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC)
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. #PutTheNailInIt is a campaign which vows to end domestic violence. Painting your left ring fingernail purple is one way to show your support for the cause. Donations to #PutTheNailInIt campaign will go to Safe Horizon to support programs and services for survivors of domestic violence. Go to PutTheNailInIt.com to donate and/or learn more about the program.
And until we meet again, smile, live, love and be grateful.