It only happens to other people. Other women. Mostly trashy ones. Mostly trashy ones that live in trailer parks. Mostly ones that have a bunch of baby-daddies. Mostly ones that have shitty teeth and shitty hair. Mostly ones that aren't smart. Mostly just the ones who have no self esteem and no future and think he's right when he says nobody's ever gonna love her but him. For sure they're not smart enough to leave that sonofabitch for what he does to her. She needs his money anyway. She's probably pregnant AGAIN.
Maybe she's super smart. Maybe she's got a great job and a good head on her shoulders, and that head has a salon cut you've always admired. Maybe her house is always perfect and her adorable kids always look like mini-models and you long for the perfect fairy tale romance that she seems to have with her Prince Charming husband.
Except you don't know what goes on behind closed doors.
Maybe she doesn't have any kids. Maybe she's too terrified that he'll do the same thing to a kid that he does to her so she couldn't fathom reproducing with him. Maybe she's seen how he treats children and it's so inappropriate she'd rather spare another life that misery. Maybe he didn't show his true colors until after the nuptials.
One in four. They're reduced to statistics that way....for every one that admits having lived through a level of disregard for another human that nobody should have to...three either are lucky enough to avoid it or don't report it.
We can't seem to get messaging right, either. While putting out a pretty strong statement about violence against women at the Grammys....they still managed to give nods to a couple of dirt bags that don't deserve mentioning.
The truth is, these are our sisters, our cousins, our mothers, our daughters, our neighbors, our friends. They are US. We keep our truth hidden as long as we can because we think everyone will judge us for our poor mate selection skills and our poor relationship maintenance skills rather than recognizing your ability for compassion. Sometimes...some people are quick to judge. Sometimes...some people are quick to try to fix our situation and tell us what to do.
I've been on the witness stand, answering questions for the prosecution, while focusing on a victim's advocate as my eyes started going black...going into tunnel vision, the body's response to stress. I would only let my Dad come to support me that day, and only because he insisted. I wouldn't let him wear his hearing aids. I knew if he heard the testimony he would cause a "contempt of court" type commotion.
I've been the unlikeliest person to reach out to the next victim of another so she knew she was not alone, and to offer my support to help build her case. Just passing along a note to let her know his behavior was consistent and that I'd be there if she needed me gave her the boost she needed to move forward and not look back.
If you are the one, make a plan. Pack a bag. Make it a "donate to Goodwill" bag if you have to. Drop it off with a friend, a coworker, a family member. Have someone whose house you can show up at unannounced and be safe and welcome for a week, preferably where you can park your car in their garage. Preferably not the person most obvious. Store some cash somewhere besides home. Even if things aren't at crisis level 5 yet, people can be unpredictable, and your safety is important. Talk to your boss. Make sure if you had to suddenly take a week off it wouldn't be a big deal. Your boss will be a lot less judgemental than you think. If your boss is judgemental and urges you to "leave your personal life outside work", you can remind him (or her) that is exactly what you are trying to do, and present him (or her) with sections from your employee handbook that address workplace violence. I almost guarantee your employer has some mention of interpersonal violence including domestic violence situations addressed somewhere in their HR materials, though some frontline supervisors fail to remember that.
Some of our local resources have joined forces to create the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. Click on the link for additional details on how to access their services or how to support their cause. My shorties picked up a water bottle at an event somewhere bearing their logo and they seem to pick that as a favorite to drag back and forth to school all the time.
These women have incredible strength to have endured both physically and mentally, and trailer park or mansion, they deserve our ears, our shoulders, our hearts. Make sure the ones you care about know that your door is open, without judgement if they need you. Stop feeding into the competitive culture and pictures of perfection perpetuated by Pinterest. Be real with your friends and share your genuine self with them, and let them do the same.
It doesn't matter if you've been given sons or daughters....both deserve to be shown healthy, real, respectful adult relationships. Speaking of tunnel vision...did you know young boys who witness violence actually lose peripheral vision and can lead to diminished performance in school because they literally can only see what's directly in front of them? That's right. Their little bodies go into survival mode and start to block out what it can't handle and it's so damaging as a result that it sometimes doesn't come back.
Please. Lead by example. Show them how to treat others and how to expect to be treated. That's the best gift you can give to them, and to yourself.