Tears were streaming down my face as I left the funeral home last night. I didn't care that I sobbed because no one could hear me. I couldn't be seen through the tinted windows of my car. My heart truly ached. I'd learned that the sister of a co-worker had been violently battered and left to die by her boyfriend. Her attacker casually went about his day. She suffered in silence, immobile and unable to speak for four hours before she took her last breath.
I'd learned of the incident close to midday yesterday. The rest of the day was mostly a blur after that news. I read the article in the newspaper describing this horrible man who'd been turned in to the police by his sister whom he'd call to confess the attack.
Here was yet another woman dead at the hands of her husband or boyfriend, this was just too much. These attacks were based on behavioral patterns. Women must learn to leave at the first sign of violence. No matter how much he says he's sorry or how extravagant the make-up gifts he buys --- get out…leave…runaway before it's too late. It's a mind game, don't fall for it. Even if you have children for your abuser, don't allow him to manipulate you to the point that you justify the abuse. You can leave; there are people who can help you even if you are afraid to go to a minister or family member. The life you save may be your own.
Locally, there have been at least three domestic violence cases in the media within the last two weeks. Some cases more bizarre than others but all ending in the death of a woman --- mother --- sister --- aunt. Domestic abuse is a tragedy that can be avoided. If you are a victim or you know someone who is, please get help. It may be a scary situation but there are people who can help.
Many years ago, a close friend shared her experience with an abusive husband. I was shocked that she'd tolerated such treatment. We were college educated women from upper middle-class backgrounds; we knew better. She tried to explain how it happened without her recognizing how manipulative he was. Although afraid and embarrassed, she planned her escape from him. Several months after he'd hit her the second time, she saved enough money to move out on her own. I was disappointed that she hadn't told any of us what was going on in her life but grateful that she didn't linger too long in that relationship.
From the National Domestic Violence Hotline:
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your partner:
- Calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you.
- Does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive.
- Tries to isolate you from family or friends.
- Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with.
- Does not want you to work.
- Controls finances or refuses to share money.
- Punishes you by withholding affection.
- Expects you to ask permission.
- Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets.
- Humiliates you in any way.
You may be in a physically abusive relationship if your partner has ever:
- Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.).
- Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked or choked you.
- Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
- Scared you by driving recklessly.
- Used a weapon to threaten or hurt you.
- Forced you to leave your home.
- Trapped you in your home or kept you from leaving.
- Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
- Hurt your children.
- Used physical force in sexual situations.
You may be in a sexually abusive relationship if your partner:
- Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
- Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
- Wants you to dress in a sexual way.
- Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names.
- Has ever forced or manipulated you into to having sex or performing sexual acts.
- Held you down during sex.
- Demanded sex when you were sick, tired or after beating you.
- Hurt you with weapons or objects during sex.
- Involved other people in sexual activities with you.
- Ignored your feelings regarding sex.
If you answered 'yes' to these questions you may be in an abusive relationship; please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or your local domestic violence center to talk with someone about it.
In loving memory of:
Dr. Sheryl Shivers-Blackwell