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What About October?

You know my name, not my story.  You’ve heard what I’ve done, not what I’ve been through.

Did you know that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month?  I’m sure many of you don’t.  I was not even aware of this until I started this blog.  As a survivor of domestic violence, I find that quite sad.  We are all aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; a worthy cause and one that is all over the media.  So, why is it that a crime that affects the lives of so many women is virtually ignored?

I can only speak from my own experience and opinion, but I believe the reason is two-fold.  The first is a lack of understanding in society, and the second is fear.

How many times have you heard people comment that if the woman wanted out, she would leave? Or that she deserves what she gets if she is so stupid to stay.  If only it were that simple.  What do men who are victims face?  Are they not manly enough if they don’t put the abusive woman in her place? Victims of domestic violence are often trapped by emotion, fear, misconception, and years of “brainwashing.”

Sometimes they are not financially stable enough to be on their own.  They may lack education, a job, skills, or the self-security required to be independent.  Often times this stems from the abuser’s control of the victims life in the past.  Or, there may be children involved.  The victim may feel they do not have the means to care for their children or provide what they need.  The abuser may threaten to take the children, or worse yet, may threaten violence if the victim attempts to leave.

Every day in the United States, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.  Additionally, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to woman, more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.  Victims of domestic violence live in fear.  But, more importantly, they often live in fear alone.

Seeking help means admitting that you have lost control of your life.  It means admitting that someone manipulates, hurts, and berates you.  It means admitting that you have lost your sense of self.  It is admitting out loud that the person you love is willing to hurt you and/or does not love you in return…it is rejection.  And, it means that, should you get caught speaking out against your abuser, there could be dire consequences to pay.

Domestic violence affects a victim’s current life and leaves scars that they carry for much, if not all, of their life.  Educating those around us is the only way to support those who are often unable to help themselves out of a difficult situation that may seem so simple from an outside perspective.  Just remember, things are not always as they appear.  Try to put yourself in the shoes of a victim…the pain will be all too real.

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