Domestic Abuse: Redux — And Resources

Sorry, boys and girls. Has it really been four days since my last posting? I became Suzy Homemaker this weekend and have been making sense of my chaos. No longer will I loathe writing — my writing desk is a sexier thing than it has ever, ever been. And I’m plum knackered. I wrote this a few days ago… I think I’m somehow becoming a profound anti-abuse activist, but I’ll try to keep my postings on it to a minimum, hence this is packed with a lot of resources for those who need it. Another thing I’m becoming an activist about is AIDS, but I missed posting for World AIDS Day. Kind of deliberately, as I assumed all the other media was focusing on it enough. I’ll bang that drum when there’s more silence on the matter.

In the meantime, you get to read this. More on dating notions later in the week. (Most of the “rules” get broken by me, and I aim to share a little on why I think they don’t apply to me… and why they probably shouldn’t apply to you, even though I’ve taken the time to write them. It doesn’t make me a hypocrite — just aware that what works for some will never work for all. Like I sez, stay tuned for that.)

Domestic abuse is the leading cause of injuries to women between the ages of 18 – 49, more than the total caused by car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

[Stat provided by the Oprah Winfrey Show. Sue me, it’s easier than finding the actual source!]

Since I wrote about violence in relationships a few weeks back, I’ve had a couple of my own friends come forward and admit they’ve been abused. I sometimes wonder why I’ve never been told before, but I think it’s because they know I’d never stand for abuse, and maybe they felt that meant I wouldn’t understand. How sad that is. And, unfortunately, on some levels, they were right.

No, I don’t understand abuse. I don’t understand how someone can claim they love you, then raise an arm to you. I don’t understand how they can claim you are their world, then proceed to insult, ridicule, and demean you, let alone violently attack you. I don’t understand it. I never, ever will.

There simply is nothing to understand, save this: It is wrong. It is unforgivable. It is unthinkable. It is intolerable.

But there’s another thing to understand, too… and that is that, as much as we wish it wasn’t so, it is not uncommon.

I consider myself a romantic realist, as I’m sometimes a little too idealistic for my own good. But I believe in humanity. I believe that good can triumph over evil, and that good can even come from evil. I’d like to think that, in the face of the worst that can befall us in our lives, people will emerge who will help recalibrate our perceptions of humanity as a whole. Good people. Caring people. People who would do anything to help us if only because they think someone needs help, and help should be given. Selflessness is not a myth.

And sadly, neither is abuse. The most horrific thing about abuse is that it’s the destruction of trust. The person we’re supposed to trust the most is the person that hurts us the most. I think victims of abuse believe they’ve nowhere to turn. And almost every single time, they’re wrong about that.

Then there’s the shame. Signs of violence are often covered up by victims. The smart abusers know to never hit the face, so the victims don’t have a lot they need to try to hide.

If you’re the victim of abuse, I implore you to try to trust others around you. Allow them to see the signs. Do not be a victim in silence – you cannot be protected, nor saved, if you’re silent. Should that day come when you have the courage to leave, if there’s no evidence, you may have a harder time leaving, let alone creating protection for yourself.

You must let others know of your suffering, but you must also exercise caution. A person capable of hurting you is a person capable of killing you, and it’s not a stretch to think it could happen. More than half the murders committed on this continent are committed by spouses and partners. How many of them should have seen it coming?

Signs you’re likely in an abusive, or soon to be abusive, relationship:
  • Jealousy
  • Name-calling and demeaning behaviour
  • Threats against you, your family, or pet
  • They try to isolate you from friends and family
  • Controlling behaviour

If this sounds like your partner, you need to consider your options and your exit strategy. You need to confer with people who understand the risks that you’re facing. See the below resources at the end of this posting.

It’s so hard to give advice about these situations because some are so incredibly volatile and dangerous. You can’t listen to some amateur like myself. You must enlist the help of support services. Even if/when you leave, you cannot assume the danger has passed. One never knows when something might snap and everything change in a moment.

The New Year is around the corner, and everyone everywhere is starting to think of resolutions – lose 10 lbs, find a better job – but if you’re abused, you must try to find a way out of your situation. You must believe that this is the year a fresh start can be found for you. You must believe you deserve better. Every living person deserves to know what love and safety feel like, so why not you?

I was raised to believe something that shapes my worldview even now: Don’t just accept apologies. “Sorry” is just a word, and the saying of it means so little. Believe the actions, not the words. Ensure that attrition is proven to you, not just given lip-service. But don’t wait around and provide them with another chance to shatter that easily-given apology. Create a plan of action. Accept that you deserve better, and strive to attain it.

I pride myself on being able to see through situations and see through people, but even I’ve been surprised at learning just who is abusive to whom of late. And it breaks my heart because I know my friends never needed to suffer in silence. I’d move heaven and earth to be the kind of friend a friend in need deserves, but if I’m not given that chance, if I’m not trusted with those shameful, dark secrets, I can never be that friend I wish to be.

Neither can your friends or your loved ones if you don’t give them the chance. After all, what have you got to lose, considering?

(But you must exercise grave caution if you’re thinking of leaving an abusive situation. There are unimaginable things which occur daily, and having a knowing, strong support group around you – including professionals who understand the potential for catastrophe and how to avoid it – is essential. I don’t for a minute think I understand in the least what kind of precautions to take. You must be brave and contact support services. Enlist a friend for help if need be, but you must contact someone.)

If you’re an American about to do some Xmas shopping and wish your expenditures could do more for others, you can shop at the “mall” at IGive.com and a percentage of your purchases will go to help the Domestic Abuse Hotline. Give the gift of freedom this holiday season.

If you’re one of the many who’ll be capitalizing on deals for new cellphones this season, consider donating your old phone to The Wireless Foundation, who provide cellphones that are reprogrammed for emergency calling only to victims of abuse for the means of protecting themselves. Who knows, that old cellphone of yours could just save a life. Click here to learn more.

Some resources for you:
A bi-lingual National Domestic Violence Helpline here in Canada can be found at:
1-800-363-9010.
The American national Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE — they can put you in touch with real resources in your region. Call for further information.
The American Domestic Abuse Hotline on the web is Here.
Learn more abought domestic abuse of all kinds at EndViolence.org.
Still not sure if you’re in an abusive relationship? This QUIZ might clear up the matter for you.
A terrific site including domestic abuse resource links for over 70 nations. HotPeaches.net.
A good list of North American, English, Australian, and a few other nations’ domestic violence contact numbers are here at the Domestic Violence International website.

Remember: Abusive relationships often start beautifully, then deteriorate to wars of words and belittling, then the violence follows. Don’t doubt early signs. Don’t think you deserve to be treated that way. Don’t wait for more. Don’t let it happen again. You deserve more. End the cycle now.