Category Archives: Domestic Violence

How to Save Yourself from an Abusive Relationship

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First of all, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or go to their website at http://www.ndvh.org. They offer support, information, and referral to local domestic violence programs and are available 24/7.  Use the computers at the library and a phone that the abuser doesn’t have access to make inquires about shelters, programs, laws, etc. They will help you work through the steps below.

  • Make a plan.  Do not just break up with the person or try to throw them out of the house or even leave yourself – without a plan.
  • Pick one person to tell your plan to, someone who does not live with you.  Let them know under what circumstances they should call the police.
  • Prepare.  Pack a bag with a few changes of clothes, toiletries, money, identification, any official papers – birth certificates, marriage certificates, social security cards, etc.  And keep this bag outside the home, in a place that is accessible to you but not the abuser.
  • File all necessary paperwork with your children’s schools, your jobs, and the police.  So that everyone knows to be on the look out for the abuser.
  • Disentangle your life from the abuser.  This can mean divorce or simply cutting off contact with them.
  • Seek counseling.  What you’ve done is enact a major life change.  You will need time to adjust.  You will need someone to help you work through your feelings.  Getting counseling makes it more likely that you will succeed.

Remember this is not your fault.  You did not deserve this and you are responding to their actions.   Leaving is YOUR RIGHT.  Protecting yourself and your loved ones is YOUR RIGHT.

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Police seeking boyfriend of woman accused of abuse.

Police seeking boyfriend of woman accused of abuse

Celebrities With a History of Domestic Violence

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Halle Berry Opens Up About Abuse

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http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/blog/eye-on-college-football/19523113

Buckeye Dismissed After Domestic Violence Arrest

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There are new charges filed everyday.

http://www.dailypress.com/news/crime/dp-nws-hampton-domestic-assault-20120708,0,7425272.story

Hampton Man Charged With Domestic Assault

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Peacekeepers are charged with protecting the most vulnerable around the world – refugees, people caught between forces of civil wars, and people at the receiving end of government violence.  Peacekeepers work in desperate situations in developing nations.  They are supposed to be the good guys.

Maybe not so much …

http://www.womenundersiegeproject.org/blog/entry/when-those-meant-to-keep-the-peace-commit-sexualized-violence

Rapists Are Among United Nations Peacekeepers

How to look your best the morning after …

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It Began With the Rule of Thumb

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I never knew the origins of this phrase until recently.  Rule of thumb.  It began in 15th century England.  Common Law said that a man could beat his wife as long as the instrument he used was no wider than his thumb.

Women, much like children, needed to be kept in line.  Disciplined.  Obedient.  And the law gave men this right.  And society accepted it without question because women were essentially property.  For some of you, your minds are probably already drawing connections between 15th century England and some contemporary Middle Eastern countries.  In some parts of the world, times haven’t changed that much.  And in other parts … things haven’t changed at all.

The First Wave of Change

In America, the progress we’ve made in terms of preventing and stopping domestic violence can be attributed to the work and sacrifices of many MANY women and men.  As a whole, the Women’s Suffrage Movement played a major part.  As did the Women’s Movement of the 1970’s.

Iron Jawed Angels

Iron Jawed Angels (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If any of you are at all unfamiliar with Suffrage, I suggest adding the following movie to your “To Watch List:” Iron Jawed Angels. It stars Hilary Swank, Frances O’Connor, and Patrick Dempsey.  I promise you will not be bored and you’ll get the point rather succinctly.  Once women secured the right to vote, their concerns were at the very least up for debate.  Suffrage wasn’t a magical cure-all but it was the beginning of the country finding value in women that extended beyond their roles as mothers and wives.

The Women’s Movement of the 1970’s pushed that agenda along even further.  It was undeniably about sex.  Birth control, abortion, and promiscuity ranked high among the topics discussed on both sides.  But the overall accomplishment of the Women’s Movement was that women were no longer viewed as property.  It established us as people with thoughts and preferences that were to be taken seriously.  We could decide for ourselves what kind of life we wanted to live – if we wanted to have children, if we wanted to get married now or ever.  And from this Feminism took hold in the hearts of a new generation of women.

Still, in the area of domestic violence little progress had been made.  Police forces (made up of mostly men) did not want to investigate these incidents.  They didn’t want to make arrests.  If they did anything at all it looked like what we today call mediation.  Except, both parties were not necessarily present for this mediation.  Hospitals didn’t bother questioning women about the origins of their injuries.  And to further complicate matters, economic and custody concerns persuaded many women to stay with their abusers.  The system was rigged against them.  If an abuser managed to be charged AND convicted of a violent assault the maximum sentence he could get was 6 months.

The Second Wave of Change

In the 1980’s things began to change with the Tracy Thurman case.  She was beaten, stabbed, and literally stomped on by her ex-husband in front of a crowd of her neighbors and police officers who did nothing to stop it.  Her spine was crushed and she was permanently disfigured.  People were outraged.  Women were outraged.  They made it into a made-for-TV movie which played on Lifetime.  It’s called A Cry for Help: The Tracy Thurman Story.  Her ex-husband was sentenced to 20 years in prison and upon his release she filed a petition for the most detailed restraining order in history.  After all the publicity, this incident got lawmakers instituted a mandatory arrest law in several states.

Fast forward to the 1990’s and two more women captivated the nation: Anita Hill and Nicole Simpson.  The murder of Nicole Simpson reminded the nation that domestic violence was not a thing of the past and just how high the stakes are for women whose lives are touched by it.  Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment just as he was going through confirmation for the Supreme Court and she was crucified for it.  Outraged, women began to flock to the polls and the number of women politicians surged, which resulted in new policy that was more reflective of the concerns of women.  Namely the Violence Against Women Act.

But none of this came easily.  It came from the blood, sweat, and tears of our brave sisters.  They had to endure insinuations about their mental state and claims that they either overreacted or brought it on themselves.  They lived with the knowledge that safety for them did not exist, only fear.  Many faced all of this with children at their side.  Some ended up homeless.  And some ended up dead.

Today

Today, hospital employees – doctors and nurses are trained to be on the look-out for signs of domestic violence and rape.  Some hospitals automatically call the police in such cases.  And some police departments will automatically remove the abuser from the situation – either temporarily as  a “cooling off period” or they will just arrest him.  For some states, it’s not even necessary that the abused press charges.  Whether the abused wants to or not, the law says that it is a crime.  And the violence is treated much like any other crime.  Evidence is collected.  Charges are filed.  And the case goes to court whether there is a complaining witness or not.  We also have resources that abused women didn’t have in the 70’s and 80’s – shelters, organizations, advocacy groups, counseling services, legal services, and general awareness.

But the situation is far from perfect.  There is still work to be done.  25% of all women and girls in this country will be abused in their lifetimes and most domestic violence goes unreported.  New surveys show that men are victims of domestic violence in equal numbers to women but they only receive a tiny fraction of the services and sympathy.  What does it say about our progress that some victims are still shamed into silence? Well, history has shown us on this issue and countless others that nothing changes until we make it so.  If you’re following me on Twitter take a look at some of the domestic violence organizations that I follow, pick one, and get informed then get involved.  Name abuse when you see it, regardless of who’s on the giving or receiving end of it.

The Story of Simone

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I have a friend.  Let’s call her … Simone.  As a girl she felt abandoned by her absentee dad and stifled and ignored by her mom.  But she dreamed of getting married and having kids, the “white picket fence” picture.  In fact, there was this big white house with black shutters on the corner of her street and every time we drove past it she’d point to it and say someday that would be her house.

Then one day Simone met a boy at her church, let’s call him Joe.  Joe was the same age as her (about 10 at the time) and he seemed to like her.  They ended up in the same social circle – socializing in Sunday School, choir, service, and any other church related events.  One warm Sunday afternoon just as church was letting out, the two of them ran out the double doors into the parking lot.  To anyone watching it would seem like they were playing a game.  Tag or something like that.  Simone darted this way and that, running in a semi-circle over the gravel of the church parking lot.  She wasn’t nearly fast enough to evade him and when he caught up to her his fist pounded into the middle of her back.  Not once.  Not twice.  I honestly lost count.  Yes, I saw it happen with my own eyes.  I screamed for help, screamed for him to leave her alone.  Joe’s father stepped out of the church, watching the scene from his place next to me.  He didn’t move.  He didn’t speak.  He just watched.

Eight years later Joe’s father dies.  Months pass and he’s overcome with grief.  Both he and Simone are now high school seniors.  And dating.  Seriously dating.  They went to prom together.  Joe’s mom actually made her prom dress.  And one night after she had dinner with his family or a date night with him, he took her up to his bedroom.  They argued.  Joe withdrew a knife and threatened her with it.  Poked her with it  (her words, not mine).  Then he traded the knife for a big wooden block which he began to hit her with.  Later, she would explain his behavior saying that he was just upset about his dad passing away.

Three years pass and just before beginning their last year of college, Simone breaks up with Joe.  She dates two other guys – both of which she deems too nice (again, her words not mine).  And by the time school starts again, she and Joe are engaged.  They marry in secret because by now everyone in her family knows about the knife-poking incident and she knows they would not approve. Before spring, the secret is out and Simone’s mother insists that married women do not live with their mothers, they live with their husbands.  So, Simone and Joe get a small apartment together.

To date they’ve been married for 8 years.  Due to a terminal illness, Simone is not able to work.  Joe is the sole provider and she is oh-so-very grateful for that.  She knows that if she didn’t have him she wouldn’t be able to survive. Yes, he works from seven in the morning until ten or eleven at night but that’s normal for high school coaches.  And sure, he gripes that they never have enough sex but that’s normal for most men.  He never goes to any of her doctor’s appointments but she doesn’t complain.  Threatens to throw her out of the house.  Pushes her … and god knows what else.  But he loves her.  And she loves him.  He’s fun and smart (her words not mine).

She recently took a huge step and decided to divorce him.  She drew up papers and got a restraining order against him but dropped everything after two weeks.  It was just too hard not being able to call him (her words, not mine).  And then he apologized.  Said that he was hurt too.  By what she’d done.  Trying to leave him and serving him with a restraining order and all … it hurt his feelings.  So, they are working it out.  Going to therapy.  Because he loves her and she loves him.  And she believes that he can change.

If you know someone like Simone, here’s what you can do:

  1. Listen without judgment.
  2. Tell her about her legal rights.
  3. Tell her where she can go for help.
  4. Tell her about nearby resources specifically for women in violent situations.
  5. Let her know it’s not her fault and she’s not alone.  It may not sink in right away but it doesn’t hurt to say it anyway.