As a young woman, my heart and my mind believed I deserved it. The name calling, the shoving, the pin-downs that resulted in more insults and restraint from leaving. I believed that my actions controlled his reactions. I was the reason he was out of control. I was the reason for the screaming fights that ended in abuse. And I believed he was truly sorry each time he apologized — then it would happen again.
The Department of Justice defines domestic violence as: “A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”
Domestic violence, a topic that doesn’t surface often but is present among us all, whether directly or within our circle of life. Each year in the United States, more than 10 million assaults occur, that equals 20 people every minute of the day. From name calling to physical and sexual assaults, domestic violence looks different in every situation but the effects are often the same. These patterns are happening at a young age. The Department of Justice reports that woman aged 18-24 are most likely to be abused by an intimate partner.
The question arises, why do we stay in a abusive relationship for so long? Why do we allow the person to continue to assault?
“An abused woman lives in fear, unable to predict when the next attack will come. She may become isolated from friends and family, and increasingly dependent on her abuser. In these circumstances it can be very hard to make sense of what is really happening. Over time her self-esteem may be worn down. She may start to believe her abuser’s insults. She may blame herself for the abuse, or deny that it is taking place. She may ignore it, hoping that her partner -the man she loves – will change (refuge.org.uk).”
Another reason a woman will stay in an abusive relationship is financial dependency on her abuser. Research suggests 1 in 4 female victims of domestic violence will end up homeless or without shelter. The National Center for Homelessness conducted a six year study, finding 92 percent of women who were homeless had been a victim of domestic violence – often before the age of twelve. According to the The National Journal, “Even if domestic abuse did not precipitate the immediate housing crisis, victims of violence have lifelong vulnerability to financial and social instability that often results in homelessness”. Thankfully there is a growing number of shelters and safe homes for woman (see below).
YOU MAY BE ABUSED IF…
As a woman with a past of abuse who now walks in freedom, I can tell you there is hope. It takes courage to stand up to abuse. Sometimes that courage needs to even be the smallest amount. There is help. There is safety and refuge. You are not alone and you don’t have to be. You have no reason to be ashamed or to feel you are to blame for your suffering.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 911 now.
For local support call Catalyst at 530-343-7711 or visit them at 330 Wall St. in Chico.
For more information call or click on these resources:
National Domestic Violence Hotline
330 Wall Street, Chico, CA 95969
Local Shelters for women:
Sabbath House ( located at The Jesus Center): 899-9343
Torres Shelter: 891-9048
July 11th, 2016
Posted In: Blog