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Understanding Domestic Violence

Understanding Domestic Violence

With domestic violence creeping up in the news and the world of sports, the ignorance around the subject has been burning in my ears and my eyes. Of course, domestic violence is an extremely sensitive issue, one that needs to be taken to a court of law before any true judgement can be passed on any of the involved parties. This is a viewpoint taken by many legal organizations such as Adras & Altig, Attorneys at Law that have to deal with cases of domestic violence every single day. However, a lot of people decide to chip in on domestic violence issues without any actual knowledge of the matter themselves. I’ve felt so disappointed in people who passed judgment on the victims. It hurts my heart, knowing what these women are going through and hearing people say such awful things like, “She must like getting her ass beat” and “She’s so stupid, why does she stay?”

I’d like to say I’m on the other side of the statistics. One of the few who has never had domestic violence touch their lives.

But If I Said That, I Would Be Lying

My memories from when I was a little girl of 2-5 are still pretty vivid. What I remember most though, was my brother. He was my safety net, my best friend, and my solace in the storm of chaos.

As a little girl, there were very few things I was actually able to see with my eyes. I can’t remember seeing my dad hitting my mother, but I remember the screams. I remember the crashing of furniture and objects. I remember seeing holes in the walls the next morning and getting yelled at when I questioned it. I remember hearing, sometimes seeing and sometimes trying to stop, my mother from leaving the house, from leaving us alone with him.

I walked on eggshells at home, I was picked on at school and the only place I felt safe, happy and normal, was by my brother’s side.

My Mother Endured 7 Years of Abuse

Why did she stay so long? Was she stupid? Maybe she liked the fear, the pain, and the hell she was living in?

No. She was scared.

You don’t get to leave the father of your children, who happens to be terrifying and manipulative, all that easily. You don’t just walk away from the man that closed his hands around your throat and squeezed while you held your newborn baby, both times you gave birth. You don’t gather the courage for that overnight.

And Then There Are the Financial Issues, the Collateral Damage, the Judgment and the Betrayals

My mother had been a kindergarten teacher. When she finally gathered up all the strength she had to divorce my father, she moved us into a townhouse and got a job as a secretary making $6 an hour. My little sister wore my doll clothes.

Divorce didn’t trouble me. As far as I can remember, the process was relatively straightforward and with the help and support from the lawyers at somewhere similar to Sisemore Law throughout the entire process, we had the strength to walk away and to move on from that life. I remember sitting in counseling sessions at school, because my parents were divorced, and not understanding why I was there.

The divorce isn’t what damaged me. I just remember being so glad when our friend pointed us in the direction of someone like this denver custody lawyer because it ultimately meant that my mother would be given custody of us and so my father would never be able to get to us in that way ever again. I was happy my father was gone and I was sick with stress on visitation days.

But then it all changed. My brother, my only sliver of sunshine through the rain of my childhood was taken from me. My mother fought for him to be taken from my father and he went back to live with his own mother. Instead of growing up alongside of my best friend, I had to fight to see him even into our teens, up until I was sent away.

My mother was shunned. She lost friends. Her own mother wouldn’t even speak to her. My father had been such a charmer; no one could understand why she was leaving him and those that knew wanted to “stay out of it.”

My mother was strong enough to break the cycle when she met my stepfather and that is so unbelievably rare. The fact that she was able to show me another side, that men didn’t equal pain and abuse and that she could be shown real love, kept a tiny piece of my heart undamaged. I can never thank her enough for that.

Unfortunately for me, domestic violence didn’t stop there. When I was 12 my mother decided I was ‘broken’ because I missed him and I was sent to live with my father. She couldn’t have been further from the truth. I still hate that I didn’t know how to communicate my hurt, my anger and the pieces of my soul that had gone missing. But I was just a kid. I didn’t know how.

I’ve shared a little bit about this before in my personal story, so I won’t go into too many details, but for the two years I lived with my father, I was abused. I was hit, slapped, choked, kicked, dragged and thrown around.

Something strange happened to me during that time. While I was terrified, I believed that it was my fault. He had me convinced that if I had only listened better, followed instructions better, if I wasn’t so stupid, if I would just do what I was told, if I wasn’t so bad and just learned how to be good-none of it would be happening. And so I tried. I made excuses for him and my bruises and did the best a teenager could do in order to behave themselves amongst the flying hormones and psychological damage I was carrying.

I believed I was the problem. I believed it was my fault. I was scared to tell anyone. And when people found out, their anger was directed at me and I was accused of lying because of how great a guy he was.

Every relationship I had in the future, I chose pushovers; men who were the opposite of my father. I never, ever wanted to be in that situation again. I wasn’t happy dating these guys that didn’t seem to have respect for themselves, but it was better than the alternative. Time passed and I ended up meeting A. He had the self-respect I craved, but ended up being a controlling sociopath. After a year and a half with him, I realized that I had somehow entered into a relationship with someone who was just like my father, even the look in his eyes when they flashed of anger reminded me of him.

But I’m Still Here

I was able to get away and start a new and better life for myself. My relationships post A have been healthy ones, with men that are kind are caring, but with self-respect. No pushovers and no abuse.

The person I am today, got here by fighting through the pain of my past. I was very fortunate for my particular circumstances and there are so many women who aren’t as lucky. The subject of domestic violence is so close to my heart because of my past, I want to help those women not only survive it, but also push beyond it and conquer their lives. I want to be the voice they are too afraid to use. I want to help them discover their way out. I want them to find safety and shelter. Once they gather the courage, the strength to get out from underneath their horrifying and tormenting ways, hiring a family attorney lawyer and getting as far away as possible is the BEST thing they will ever do.

Most of all I want people to understand that domestic violence isn’t as simple as a man hitting a woman (or a woman hitting a man), that there are psychological bits and pieces to the puzzle you could never begin to understand as a person who hasn’t gone through it.

We need to put an end to domestic violence and it starts with you. Educate yourself and don’t fall into the judgment. You could change a life.

Do you or someone you love need help with this intense issue? While Hey Little Rebel offers awesome advice, we aren’t licensed therapists or trained crisis counselors. We care about you, so please take care of yourself by using the following hotline number to get the help you need:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7244 or 1-800-787-3224
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: 1-866-331-9474
Love is Respect

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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