My last job was as an advocate in a program that worked with victims of Sexual Assaults and Domestic Violence. You will see me using the feminine pronouns, but I do know that men are abused as well. In fact, men are usually abused with more lethal means because it takes a little more for a woman to hurt a man (in most cases). I learned a lot and I can tell you that no one wants to be abused. The next question usually is, why do they stay then?
If you had to leave right now... let's just imagine the unimaginable... that your spouse, your child, or someone you loved came up and hit you right now. They hit you so hard in the face that you know it is going to leave a mark. Maybe, in this instance, rather than just using their fist, they used a hammer, a plate, or whatever was the closest for them to grab. Where would you go? Would you really want to discuss what just happened with your friends and family? Would you go to the Emergency Room to get stitched up, x-rays in case of a concussion, or any other reason at this point you may need to go to the ER?
Many of these women don't have anywhere to go. Their family is so sick of them coming back to them and reporting what had happened and then the woman goes back to the abuser. We need to remember that there are a lot of memories and the couple usually has a lot of good memories. None of us fall in love with a poop on purpose...
Statistically, a woman will leave between 6 and 8 times before she stays away. Sometimes it just takes once, sometimes a woman will never leave the person they have made a promise to stay with.
Let's go back to the question of where you would go if someone in your family hurt you and you knew you wouldn't be safe in the house. Do you have savings to get a hotel? Would you go to your family? There are Domestic Violence Shelters for people to go to around the country, but it isn't easy talking to a stranger.
It is easiest, and safest, to stay with the person who is abusing you. It takes time to come up with a plan. I would strongly advise if you know someone that is trying to leave to put them in contact with a Domestic Violence Program that can help with a safety plan. There are some safer times to leave than others. Some times it takes a strong lie and sometimes it takes law enforcement stepping in.
The question I would like people to start asking is, "Why aren't the penalties stronger for Domestic Violence?" In many places, a man that hits a woman is allowed to go back into the home because it is marital property. There needs to be some sort of civil action to take that right away. Why is a man allowed to physically abuse a woman and he may get a little time in jail, if he gets any at all?
Domestic Violence is real! It is something that many people deal with and we need to stop asking the wrong questions. We need to learn to be active bystanders, we need to learn the right things to say to victims, and we need to stand up and say something when the time comes for us to do that.
If you, or someone you know, needs to talk to someone about Domestic Violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or for TTY: 1-800-787-3224
There are many websites out there, but the one I think is very useful is to know some Red Flags that are associated with Domestic Violence. You can Click here for the Red Flag Campaign
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