Friday, October 9, 2009

It’s Not OK

If someone broke into your home, intent on hurting you or your family, you’d defend yourself, right? But for millions of people all over the world, this sense of self-protection isn’t there.

That’s because the person inflicting or threatening the harm didn’t break in – they have a key. They live there. And their intended victims are their spouses, girlfriends, children, sometimes even their parents. Don't think it doesn't happen in your tight-knit circle. Statistics are grim and show that 1 in every 4 women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime.

I’m writing this because October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, I implore you to get help for yourself or for them. Get out. Get the life you deserve. Believe me, though it's not easy to do, I know it can be done.

Because – as the badge for Violence UnSilenced here on my page says – home should always be safe. VU, a site dedicated to helping those who have suffered violence in its many forms, started earlier this year. MaggieDammit, who is a powerful and beautiful writer, and an abuse survivor, got the ball rolling giving a voice to those who’ve seen the dark side of domestic abuse and either have left it behind them or are trying to.

The idea is that not only is this speaking up and speaking out cathartic for those who share their stories, but that those who are in these relationships might see a glimmer of themselves there — and know that it’s possible to get out.

I know of what I speak. I saw this played out regularly as a kid. As an adult, I’ve seen how it severely influenced decisions I’ve made and how I repeatedly put myself into less obvious abusive scenarios (as in I was never hit). Unfortunately, it took several years for me to recognize this but the good news is that I did see it for what it was.

Domestic violence at its worst can be a death sentence for those who are trapped in it. On average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. Every day. Still think this isn't an important issue?

Domestic violence can be a perpetual curse unless the cycle is broken. Children who are abused or witness abuse can grow up to be abusers or victims. This is what they grew up with. This defines “normal” for them. And that violence doesn’t always have to be physical – it can be verbal or emotional, too. That’s one of its most insidious forms because victims seem to lessen the severity because they have no bruises, no cuts, no broken bones.

This happens but somehow it’s always “OK.”

Well guess what? It’s NOT OK. Ever. Read this great interview that Maggie did earlier this week that talks about how, slowly, the shame and taboo surrounding this issue are lifting.

Someday, maybe sites like VU won’t have to exist. In the meantime, I’m glad to know it’s there.


karen said...

You are right it is NOT OK. I am glad you are safe now. And I will check out the site.

Kris said...

Bravo NV, bravo.

I am a survivor of domestic violence. I was 22 years old and even though I was hit and bullied and pinched and put down daily - I didn't know that what I was experiencing was DV - not until someone asked me point blank if I was being abused. THERE'S A NAME TO WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING IN MY HOME? The bells went off loudly and two weeks later I took my 3 month old son and left. I was gone from the place - but the verbal abuse and control lasted for years.

I've been an advocate at the local shelter here in SD, I facilitated the women's support group, I've written comments re: articles on abuse and I try to always remember that even though people believe, REALLY believe, that it doesn't happen in their own back yards - they are just fooling themselves. It is every where.

Let people know you care, don't be afraid to speak up or out - it may not be "heard" but it may be the one single thing that clicks and makes a difference in someone's life. It did mine.

Maggie, Dammit said...

Thank you for this hon.

I don't think I'm an abuse survivor. I'm certainly not a survivor of physical abuse. I still struggle to name what happened to me.

But, still. I'm so grateful for your steady and constant support of VU. You are such a gift.


NV said...

Karen -- Thanks. Yes, quite safe now. Definitely check it out. If it's not you, it could be someone you know.

Kris -- SO glad you got the hell out. Read your post, too. You go, girl!

Maggie -- Abuse comes in many forms, my dear, and you've definitely survived. Thanks for all you do!

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