Believe me. I might not come out and tell you I’m being abused, but I will give you signs. I will stop coming to family gatherings. I will tell you I’m sad or depressed. I might have bruises; however, they will likely be where no one can see them. I might lose or gain weight. Stomach aches and headaches may intensify. I might start drinking or taking drugs. It might appear I can’t concentrate on anything. My answers to regular questions will be vague. My joy will be gone, and I may appear sad. Or maybe I will tell you how happy I am, and life has never been better. I begin to believe this myself.
Domestic violence (DV) happens to women and men. It is not someone else’s problem. Domestic violence happens to your mom, aunts, brothers, uncles, sisters, nieces, sons, daughters, granddaughters and grandsons. It will stop when each of us takes a stand against domestic violence. Do not wait for the NFL or any other business to take a stand. Become educated about DV. No one should have “needed to see the video” to know Janay Rice was abused. She was carried out of an elevator like a piece of garbage being thrown to the curb. Enough said.
There are four main areas of DV. The first is physical abuse which may include slapping, kicking, hitting, shoving, punching, spitting, or being restrained physically or being threatened with violence. The second is emotional abuse and may include name calling, insults, verbal attacks, humiliation, destruction of property, threatening to harm family or pets, extreme jealousy and demeaning remarks. The third is economic abuse which may involve credit card, check book, or cash restriction; not allowing work outside the home; and control of all financial decisions. The fourth is sexual abuse, and it may consist of forced sexual acts that are uncomfortable or are overly aggressive or violent; denying contraception; or withholding sex.
Why do I stay? Every minute of every day, day in and day out, I hear, “You deserve it. You are a piece of garbage. I do it because I love you. I will kill your dog if you tell someone. Your family will be killed if you tell anyone. It will ruin my career. You will never survive without me. I will kill myself if you leave. I will kill you if you leave. I will take your children and you will never see them again.” And I believe you.
Please do not re-victimize me. Please don’t tell me, “It can’t be true. He/she would never do that! But he/she is a pillar in the community. He/she goes to church every week. He/she is a great person. You must be making this up. You are spreading lies and need help. Why are you saying this?” And when the truth is heard, please don’t ever say, “I knew it all along! I never liked him/her. You never told me. You should have left years ago. I told you so…” If these statements are true, why didn’t you help me?
You can end the cycle of violence for someone you know or love. Offer love and support. In Jacksonville call Hubbard House (904-354-3114) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233).
But most of all… Believe me.