So I started to do this blog post during the month of October but then something stopped me. I decided to speak about this topic in a month not dedicated to it and help keep the talk about it alive. I’m sure by now you are wondering just what I’m talking about. You are probably scratching your head and thinking, “WTH.” Wait no more. I’m talking about that “D” word. No, not death rather I am talking about…Domestic Violence or DV. Did anyone besides me know that in addition to “Breast Cancer Awareness” month October was also dedicated to “Domestic Violence Awareness” as well? I can just about say without a doubt that most of you didn’t. Well let me make you aware so that come October next year, you are out the letting someone else know.
While I hope that you all know what “DV” is, it would be foolish of me to assume. On that note, let me give you the working definition. Domestic Violence is defined as abusive behaviors being utilized by one person in a relationship to control the other person in the relationship. We can go a step further and break down the word abusive. Now I’m sure when you hear abusive you think physical. Well, abusive doesn’t just mean physical. Abusive speaks to emotional, financial, sexual, mental, etc. The list can go on and on like the song that never ends. It is all about control. If something is being down to exert control over the other party in the relationship it is deemed abusive. Let’s be clear, this type of violence knows no barriers. There is no respect for sexual orientation or preference, age, race, creed, social status, religion, etc. It can and has happened to everyone within the social gradient. If you identify as a member of the LGBTQ population it happens there. It happens in heterosexual relationships. It happens to members of the Church, Mosque, Synagogue, etc. It even happens to rich people (just listen to Entertainment Tonight for the latest occurrence). You don’t have to be living together or even in a defined relationship for it to occur. It can just…HAPPEN!
Let’s talk numbers. Did you know that one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her life? As I stated earlier, domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, sex, gender, etc., however; the sad truth is that women account for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence whereas men only account for 15%. Now, I will be the first to say that the numbers with regards to men are highly skewed and probably just as inaccurate. If you’re wondering why, it is simple. How many men do you know that will actually admit that the woman they are with is abusive and controlling? Personally, I don’t know any. No man is going to admit that the woman he is with hit him with a frying pan because he didn’t do what she wants. We all know that men have been programmed to be tough and strong and have flawed definitions when it comes to the portrayal of manhood. Another alarming fact is that women who are between the ages of 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence. How many of you are in that age group. Just so you know, DV is present in the teenage population and happens at an alarming rate. It is absolutely disturbing. Are you one of those people who believe that the threat of domestic violence is over once you become separated or divorced? Well think again. Separated and divorced individuals are at a greater risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence. If you thought it was over…it’s not. Being pregnant is not an exempt ticket from being a victim. As a matter of fact, a great deal of victims is pregnant.
You’ve seen what it looks like for nonfatal incidents. What about the fatal incidents. It is estimated that more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partner in this country on a daily basis. *Sigh* we’re not even talking about getting killed by a complete stranger. We’re talking about knowing the person who killed you all because they were trying to control you. Lumped into the stats are numbers as they relate to stalking and rape/sexual assault. These too fall under domestic violence and have just as disturbing numbers as the rest of the categories. Stalking is a big issue and most homicide cases involve stalking when dealing with domestic violence. Having an order of protection is not a failsafe mechanism. Even then, people still die.
Hopefully, by now I’ve piqued your interest with this topic. Given the definition of DV, how many people can say that they don’t know or have never known an individual who is a victim or even a perpetrator of DV? If you can say that you don’t know someone please share the directions to your bubble so that I may pay a visit and perhaps stay awhile. If you don’t know anyone in this situation, count yourself among the lucky ones. Unfortunately, I have not been so lucky to avoid being subjected to situations such as this. Now don’t get it twisted. I have never been subjected to DV personally. No one has been bold or stupid enough to put their hands on me or disrespect me in a manner that can be deemed abusive. I am pretty confident that with God’s grace that will never happen. What I am saying is that I have been a witness to friends being DV victims. Let me tell you, it is the most draining experience ever. Even now, I know of individuals who are victims and have yet come to accept it or figured out a way to get out of it. It’s a sad tale this domestic violence. The truth of the matter is that, statistics show that approximately three out of four Americans know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. That’s 74% of the population. It gets better. 30% of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year. Are you alarmed now? Do you see the writing on the wall of how serious this issue is?
In college, I can recall periods where I so wanted to get involved in a dispute and I had to restrain myself. I didn’t restrain myself because I didn’t care. Trust me I cared A LOT. Rather, I restrained myself because I knew that the victim wasn’t ready to receive my help. I’m sure your scratching your head at not ready. Your probably wondering WTH, what do you mean by not being ready. Remember DV exist when control is placed in the equation. With control comes a loss of one’s self-worth. To extricate one’s self from a domestic violence situation is a process that may not be done in one night. It is a process that may take days, weeks, months, and or years. Now hopefully, this time before the individual has the strength, courage, fortitude, etc. to leave the DV situation they are not to battered and alive. As we know there are some that never make it out. Last month, during intensive 4-week training, I heard what it took for some women to leave. These women varied in ethnicity, religion and income status yet they were all victims of domestic violence. For each of them, it took something deep inside of them to leave their situation. It takes something deep inside of them to cultivate their new found sense of self-worth. It is a process and for some it’s a day in and day out process. As with any abuse, it is one that while you may heal, you will never forget. The sad truth is that some people never do heal and are wounded doves forever.
With all of this being said, what is that you can do for those whom you know are victims? Truthfully, your role is limited. What you can’t do is make them feel guilty and ask questions such as why are you still there. By doing that you are continuing the victimization process. You need to be there for them. If they are receptive help them to create a safety plan. Ideally, in time they will find the strength to remove themselves from the situation safely. Domestic violence is like an addiction, it’s a one day at a time type of situation. There’s nothing simple about it.
If you live in NYC and need services as it relates to domestic violence here are a few places that can help you: