Since October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, devoting my first two part blog series to one of the world's most prevalent and under reported crimes seemed fitting. The purpose of this series is to help raise awareness and reduce stigma, which can often contribute to victims choosing to remain silent.
Since entering the world of professional helpers in 2004, I've provided counseling services to dozens of women (and a few men) who've been; kicked, slapped, kidnapped, punched, locked out, suffocated, driven over, spit on, sexually violated, and in one case, permanently mutilated- by their intimate partner(s).
Much like mental illness and substance abuse, domestic violence is often misunderstood by the general population. Many who aren't survivors of domestic violence struggle to understand why victims stay in physically violent relationships. As a new counselor, I too struggled to wrap my mind around it. Why would anyone repeatedly subject themselves, and in some cases- their children, to an abusive relationship? Here are some of the most common answers I've been given to the same question I always ask, "Why do you stay?"
1. Keep the family together
2. No where to go
3. No one else would have me
4. I'm afraid to be alone.
5. History of abuse
6. Financial problems
7. Hope they will change
8. Threats and manipulation
9. No support system
13. _______ didn't mean to hurt me.
Like several of my previous blog entries, the common theme silently screaming out of the list above.. is Fear. Fear of the family falling apart, fear of being alone with no resources or support system. Fear of being judged and/or shamed by friends, groups or family members. Fear of not be loved. Fear of dying. Fear of not being good enough to make needed and lasting change.
If you are a victim of domestic violence living in fear, read the following truths out loud.
I am good enough.
Help is out there.
I deserve better because I am worth it.
For more facts and information on domestic violence, check out the "Survivors Board" on Pinterest. This board was designed to provide words of encouragement, support and empowerment to victims. It's an open board meaning, if you happen to be a Pinterest addict, - like myself, and would like pinning privileges, let me know and I will gladly add you. Sometimes the smallest gesture can make a big impact on someone struggling in a physically abusive relationship.
Read Part II of my blog series, Domestic Violence here.
Misti Luke is a licensed mental health therapist in private practice in beautiful Broken Bow, Oklahoma. For correspondence email email@example.com