Halloween marked the end of National Domestic Violence month. I am writing this blog post now because it is important to focus on domestic violence not only in October but every month of the year. The majority of our residents have a history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. However, domestic violence occurs in all neighborhoods, among all races, among all genders, and in all occupations. In fact, one in four women have been a victim of violence. That means if you get together with four of your friends, odds are at least one of you has been abused.
She is a smart graduate school student, but her boyfriend of seven years has isolated her from her friends and her family. Her friends are scared of him and won’t talk to her. She misses them, they were her support system. Now it is just him.
He has witnessed the aftermath of his uncle’s violence against his aunt and young cousin, their dead, burned bodies. He begins a slow insidious campaign to make her doubt her self-worth, to make her feel like garbage. He is nice and caring most of the time but then something triggers him and he shoves her, or he hits her. He pulls a gun on her friends. She loves him with all of her heart but is scared that she may wind up like his aunt – dead. The stigma surrounding domestic violence makes her hesitant to seek help. She wonders how someone as smart as she is – a grad student – can be a victim of domestic violence. She is ashamed to seek help and suffers in silence.
Finally she seeks help and realizes that she is worthy of a love that doesn’t come with a price. She leaves him but the scars linger under the surface affecting her relationships for years afterwards.
There are resources out there if you know someone who may be a victim of domestic violence. Here are some for the DC area: http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/violence/domestic-violence.aspx. The most important thing to remember is to not give up on the victim. It takes time to get the courage to leave and often takes more than one attempt before the victim finally leaves their abuser for good.