Often times, when entering into the month of October I find myself having a lot of mixed emotions with what the month brings. You see it’s during this time we as a collective body of people, bring a lot of awareness, education and celebration to those who fell victim or have survived the good fight against Breast Cancer. We wear our Pink Power Ribbons and come together to bring hope for those that are affected by this unfortunate disease. It is truly an inspiring sight to see.
But there is another fight in the month of October that often goes unnoticed and is not highly publicized. These unsung victims and/or survivors fight a silent battle that due to lack of knowledge or true understanding goes on without discussion or acknowledgement. This battle wears a purple ribbon and is fighting the war against Domestic Violence.
Nearly one out of four women in the U.S. will face some sort of abuse within their relationship. Although we are all familiar with the physical scars, were you aware Domestic Violence could also include psychological, verbal, financial, social and spiritual abuse as well? Each contributing to an ongoing cycle making it extremely difficult for a victim to leave their unhealthy circumstance.
Recently within the media, we have been bombarded with numerous horror stories of violence against women. This has particularly been present in the world of professional sports. After seeing last year’s terrifying Ray Rice video, I was alarmed of how the NFL tried to keep this away from the public. We all have the right to personal privacy, but keeping silent about Domestic Abuse only perpetuates the stigma that it is okay. It ultimately, takes away from holding the abuser accountable for their actions and often times blames the victim for staying in the unhealthy relationship in the first place. Let’s remember that Domestic Violence at its core is about power and control. An abuser finds a way to manipulate and study their partner in an effort to gain control of their everyday life.
You may ask how do people find themselves in these kinds of relationships? Well for starters, there is no poster child for a typical victim of Domestic Violence. Abuse can cross all barriers of socioeconomic status, education, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. However, statistics does show that those who have grown up in abusive households are more than likely to end up in abusive relationships within their lives due to learned behaviors that abuse is okay.
In addition, it is important to remember that abusive relationships develop over time. Partners begin to pick up on each other’s traits and personalities through quality time spent together. This is used to an abuser’s advantage to gain insight on the best way to subtly yet seductively determine how to abuse their partner. It is comparable to the snowball effect. After a while, a playful push here can turn in a damaging slap there. Poking fun here can turn into belittling and harsh language there. And quality time spent with one another can evolve into isolation and alienation from loved ones as time passes. The abuser takes on the Jekyll and Hyde persona appearing kind one minute and completely horrifying the next. This leaves many victims torn and confused as to which person they may interact with from one moment to the next.
It is also important to remember the severity that comes with a victim attempting to leave and also the cyclical patterns of abuse. The most dangerous and lethal time for a victim is when they are trying to leave an abusive relationship and also when they become pregnant. On average, it takes a victim to 7-10 times to actually leave their abusive relationships. This is due to a number of reasons such as safety planning, saving money for the transition or building up the confidence to follow through.
Within the Cycle of Violence, you have three main stages which are the Explosive Incident, Honeymoon and Tension Building Phase. Beginning with the Explosive Incident, this involves a victim experiencing one of the various forms of abuse at an escalated level. After this phase passes the Honeymoon Phase starts where the abuser is doing everything in their power to show how apologetic and remorseful they are. This can include buying flowers, crying real tears and appearing to make positive changes. This behavior is often short lived and leading into the next stage of Tension Building. The abuser becomes agitated placing the victim and their families left to walking on egg shells anticipating when the next explosive incident will happen again. Thus, leaving the cycle to repeat its self over and over again.
When we begin to take everything into consideration on just what these victims and survivors have experienced, we begin to see their resilience and their strength. It is my hopes that during this month everyone takes a personal call to action to educate and bring awareness to the importance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For it is when we begin to break the silence of this epidemic healing, transformation and accountability can then begin to take place.
“Many survivors insist they’re not courageous: ‘If I were courageous I would have stopped the abuse.’ ‘If I were courageous, I wouldn’t be scared’…Most of us have it mixed up. You don’t start with courage and then face fear. You become courageous because you face your fear.” ~ Laura Davis