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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month for men, women, and non-binary alike. A time when we remember those who have lost their lives to this terrible epidemic, as well as those who have survived. Chances are you know someone who abuses their partner or children. Don’t make it somebody else’s problem. Domestic violence crosses all socioeconomic, demographic, and religious boundaries.
Domestic Violence Statistics
- 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women: more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
- 1/2 of all homeless women and children in the U.S. are fleeing from domestic violence.
- Nearly 20 people per MINUTE are beaten by an intimate partner.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of (some form of) physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
- A majority of physical abuse is committed by dating partners rather than spouses.
- The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
- Children who grow up in abusive homes are at a three-fold risk of perpetuating the cycle.
How I Survived Domestic Violence
I am a survivor of domestic violence. It is scary and difficult to admit, especially to yourself, that you are in an abusive relationship. As humans, we remember all of the good times and make excuses in our heads for the abuse. In reality, there ARE NO acceptable excuses for that kind of behavior. I know it is so easy to convince yourself that it will never happen again – but be honest – you know that isn’t true. Reaching out for help is difficult and downright embarrassing, but I am here to tell you that there IS help available, and you CAN survive.
Abusers are narcissistic by nature
I was in a relationship with a man who I now know was a narcissistic sociopath. He was charming – and funny – sexy, and good-looking. He was also controlling, manipulative, and possessive. He had sudden mood swings – the sweetest guy in the world – to a complete monster in a matter of 10 minutes! It was so hard to deal with, and I felt like I was always walking on eggshells.
Domestic violence became a “shadow pandemic” – reports of abuse shot up by 25-33% globally – during COVID-19. For further information,: The Shadow Pandemic of Domestic Violence, and Why Domestic Violence Increases During the Holidays – and How You Can Help.
Studies show that for many people, social isolation and financial stress increase the likelihood of abusive behavior in relationships. For those who were already experiencing abuse, the pandemic made it even harder for them to seek help or escape the situation. Shelters closed or were operating at reduced capacity. Increased time spent with abusers meant less opportunity to reach out for support.
911 calls related to domestic violence rose by as much as 28%, reflecting a dire need for resources and support during this difficult time. It is crucial that we continue to raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence and make sure that resources are available for individuals and families affected by these tragic circumstances.
How To Leave An Abusive Relationship
The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when you decide to leave. Abusers repeatedly go to extremes to prevent you from leaving. There were many times when I threatened to leave or boldly told my abuser to get the f*ck out. This ended with a knife put to my throat, my getting strangled, or ducking as a fist flew at me. His behaviors escalated any time I mentioned leaving. He had isolated me from friends and family, which is common, so I didn’t have my normal route of talking to someone. He even went with me to my doctor’s appointments
The courage to leave
I finally found the courage to leave him (2 weeks) after he beat me so badly that I had 8 broken bones in my face and skull and a fracture in my arm. I was at the hospital for medical problems and while I was there, the staff saw the old bruises and after I kept insisting they were from my seizures (yes, we make up excuses because if they find out that anyone noticed it could be much worse for us), my doctor ordered a CT scan, which confirmed their suspicions, and by law, the police were notified.
I was TERRIFIED of him and just kept bawling, while repeatedly iterating: “He is going to kill me”. Later, I explained how he was counting down to the day he planned to kill me – which was 3 days away – according to his countdown. He wanted me unable to talk before he relocated with his MS-13 gang members.
My abuser planned to kill me
He had the potassium chloride injection, a drug they use for lethal injection, hidden away for this purpose. He had already been in prison for murder and his ex-wife contacted me when she found a “kill journal” of his. In the journal, he explained in gruesome detail, how he had murdered 39 people. I KNEW he was serious but I was trapped and had no way out – or so I thought. The actions of the hospital staff that day saved my life. They charged him with 2 counts of Intent to do great bodily harm, no less than murder, and 2 counts of Intent to do great bodily harm, no less than murder – strangulation. That were just 2 occasions they knew of. He is in prison for 9-15 years.
Abusers Use Gaslighting To Control You
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which the abuser manipulates the victim into doubting their own sanity. The abuser will make constant, small, gaslighting statements in order to wear down the victim’s confidence and make them question their reality. This can be used in relationships as a way to gain control over the other person or to make them feel crazy and isolated. If you are being gaslit by someone, it is important to seek help and get out of the abusive situation. For more information, read: What is Gaslighting? How Gaslighting is Used in Relationships.
It’s Time To Leave A Domestic Violence Relationship When:
You are afraid of your partner
- If you are afraid, it is time to find the courage to walk out that door.
- Fear is not only emotional but physical – fearing for your safety if you try to leave.
- If you fear their moods or feel like you have to walk on eggshells or tip-toe around, it is not healthy.
Your partner controls everything you do
- In a healthy relationship, both partners should have a say in decision-making.
- If your partner controls everything you do, – what you wear to who you talk to – you are in a toxic environment.
- You should be able to make your own decisions without fear of retribution.
- I had to call/text when I got to the store and then call/text when leaving, which is NOT normal.
You are timed on how long it takes to run an errand
- How you do laundry
- How long it takes you to do household chores
- Being told to call when you get to the store and when you are leaving
- You are criticized regarding how you do things, or having to do it “their” way, and it is never “right”.
Your Partner Puts You Down
- In an ideal relationship, partners support each other and build each other up instead of tearing each other down.
- Your partner regularly puts you down – calling you stupid, or making fun of you – they are toxic.
- No one deserves to be treated like sh*t by their partner.
- It isn’t your fault.
- You didn’t bring it on yourself.
There is physical abuse
- If you have been physically harmed in any way, it is time to leave.
- Physical abuse can include:
- any other type of physical violence.
- No one deserves to be physically harmed by their partner.
- Physical abuse is not something that can be “fixed”, if they “just stop drinking, or using drugs…”
- It doesn’t matter what you said or did. Abuse as a response is just plain wrong.
There is sexual abuse
- Sexual abuse can include any type of sexual activity that is forced or UNWANTED by one person in the relationship.
- It can also include threats or coercion into engaging in sexual activity.
There is financial abuse
- Both partners should have access to and control over their own finances.
- If you have no control over the finances in the relationship and do not have any say in how money is spent. Especially if it is your income!
- You should be able to make financial decisions without fear of retribution
You Can Escape Domestic Violence
I know from experience that leaving is NOT easy. It may even seem impossible if you are trapped like I was. If you aren’t allowed to go anywhere or do anything, you may start to feel like it is hopeless. You may start to accept that the only way you are leaving is when they finally end up killing you.
I got out, so YOU CAN TOO.
Through therapy, I have been able to work through my trauma and begin to heal. PTSD is no joke – that’s for sure. It has been over 2 years, but I am only just beginning to breathe again. Every noise, sudden movement, or cat jumping up used to send me spiraling into “panic mode” – preparing for the “fight or flight” to come. I am in counseling and treatment for opiate addiction – 3+ years clean! from narcotics! I truly love myself, which is new and wonderful.
You are not alone. There is help available, and you CAN get out. Please reach out for help when the opportunity arises. There are people who care about you and want to help you. You don’t know when the next “round” will be and it could be your last bout. Take any hand that is offered. You deserve to be safe and happy. Don’t suffer in silence. Nobody deserves to live in fear or danger. Together we can end this heartbreaking epidemic.
Online-Therapy.Com To Help With Domestic Violence
There are resources listed below, but if you and/or your partner need therapy, there are many online therapy opportunities now, including BetterHelp, TalkSpace, and Online-Therapy.com. I was able to get a 20% discount for my readers for Online-Therapy.com! Please use it for group, couples, or individual therapy! They have an awesome toolbox of things that you can do for therapy, including chat sessions – to which you have 24/7 access to, which is a unique offer and invaluable, because you never know when you are going to need your therapist!
The neat thing about them is that you get a choice to do modules that you can work through at your own pace and have lifetime access to. The group therapy sessions are incredibly helpful and a wonderful way to talk things out. Try it out for 20% off!
Resources For Domestic Violence
Local shelters can connect with resources such as counseling and legal assistance.
To get help or information on domestic violence services, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or live chat. They offer support, local resources and options for safety planning.
For dating abuse help and resources, visit loveisrespect.org, call 1-866-331-9474, or text “loveis” to 22522.
The national suicide and prevention hotline is now 988 suicide and crisis hotline 988lifeline.org