I am sorry.
On to new stuff! So while Bugs is still in progress, and The Elemental Sisters haven’t really gone anywhere (still trying to figure out the details), I have started a short story about domestic abuse and I’m on the second draft.
Annnnnd…… it’s up for a preorder! It’s set to publish on October 3rd of this year. I chose that date for three reasons. Two of the reasons are based on statistics for competition and reader visibility, and the third reason (though it’s the main reason) is because October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. I’ll talk about my book in a little bit and where you can find it, but I want to focus on abuse for a moment first.
Domestic violence affects nearly 20 people every minute. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence in their lifetime. That’s a lot when you consider how many people live on this earth. And (I believe) these statistics are based on what’s reported. I can’t imagine just what those numbers would be like if every single incidence was reported. So many go unreported for so many reasons.
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding domestic violence. I’m going to name the three I hear/read about the most.
Misconception #1: Domestic violence only happens to women.
Wrong! Even though people have been getting better on their understanding that men have feelings and go through the same hardships that women do, most people can’t wrap their minds around the thought of a man being pushed and slapped around by a woman. And they always assume it’s a woman. Men can, and many do, get abused by women as well as men. Most of the unreported cases are most likely about men. They don’t report because it’s embarrassing and they’ve heard others say that no man would allow some bitch to push him around. That man is pussy whipped. That man is weak. That man, is not a man. Those are the thoughts that surround this misconception. And that’s why we never hear stories of men escaping violent relationships. These men are not weak. They’re not pussy whipped. They’re trapped in a relationship with the same fears and barriers that women face when they’re in the same position. No one likes being beat down, either with a fist, with words, or with small acts of degradation by strangers or even people we are friends with. Now imagine being treated like that by someone who you love immensely and believe they love you too. Denial is almost always easier to handle than the truth in the short run.
Misconception #2: If you don’t leave an abusive partner, then obviously you love being treated that way.
WHAT?! I can’t even begin to try to understand why people think this. The only people that I have ever heard of that enjoy being abused in any way are the ones in consensual BDSM relationships. I have never heard a woman tell me that she loved being punched into unconsciousness because she didn’t do that dishes or something stupid like that. So why do you think they like it? Has it never occurred to the people under this horrible thought that maybe they’re trapped with fear? Or because they have kids? No money? Nowhere else to go? Leaving is so much harder to do than it is to stay. And far more dangerous. According to Safe Horizon, the most dangerous time for anyone in a violent relationship is when they try to leave. I recently read an article (I can’t site it because I can’t remember where I read it) on a news site that a woman had been shot as she was leaving her partner. She lived because there was another adult in the house that tackled to douchebag, but she was still shot. Because she was leaving. When the victim leaves the abuser, or even threatens it, the abuser freaks out. Bad. They sense that they have lost all control over the victim and in an attempt to regain it, they resort to extreme physical measures to return things back to normal. This often includes guns, knives, and other weapons that just happen to be handy. This is why it’s easier to stay. Especially if you have kids. Don’t think that these abusers wouldn’t hurt their own children if the victim tries to rip them from the abuser. Because they do. All. The. Time. So in short, never judge someone who hasn’t left a violent relationship. Instead, offer every assistance you can to help them. Don’t try to pressure them though, that can backfire and they may even cut you out of their lives. Let them know that you are there for them whenever they need you, and hopefully, someday, they’ll call you asking you for your help in leaving.
Misconception #3: You can tell when someone is being abused because they’ll have bruises and broken bones.
This one is my least favorite. Most domestic abuse isn’t physical. Or at least not visible. Abusers are smart. Never doubt their intelligence. They hit the body in places that aren’t normally publicly visible. They break bones by actually pushing you down the stairs. They rape and commit other acts of sexual assault (yes, it’s still rape if you’re in a relationship with the person. No means no, period.). And that’s just the physical aspect of it. Once you start noticing these bruises and broken bones, chances are, this person has been getting abused for a long time already, and you didn’t notice. Before physical abuse even happens, emotional, verbal, and mental abuse takes place. It starts off small.
“Are you sure you should wear that out in public? You look nice, but I don’t want anyone else looking at you and wanting you naked.”
“Why are you reading that book? It’s filled with sluts. Only sluts read that book.”
“He said that to you? You know, I’m not sure you should talk to him, I think he just wants to bang you.”
True story. It starts off with those small little jabs. And you go along with it, because it seems to bug them a little, you love them, and it’s really of no inconvenience to you. So you don’t wear that short skirt. You don’t read that book. And you hurt someone you once cared about by ignoring them.
Then it develops. The abuser gets mad about something, sometimes you don’t even know what the issue is, but they lash out at you. They call you names that you might not even call people that you might consider to be your ‘enemies’. They embarrass you. They degrade you. They make you feel like a child. With every instance, the abuse gets worse. Your self-esteem hits rock bottom. You feel like you’re not worth it. You feel lucky to have the abuser in your life because they have convinced you no one else will ever love you. You have probably been cut off financially, either by being forced out of employment, or you’ve lost access to your bank and all payment cards. A lot of times when you’ve been cut off from money, you never even see the bills anymore until collectors start harassing you on the phone. If you’re even allowed near the phone. A lot of abuser will take your cell phone away, because, after all, you only use it to call other people to have sex with. Or to prevent you from calling the police when you start getting physically abused.
Abuse starts so much sooner than what can be visibly seen to an uneducated eye. In order for physical abuse to work, the abuser needs to have established complete control over the victim’s thoughts, feelings, friends, family, and their entire life. If they were to just start hitting them one day without establishing any control, the police would be called and they’d be arrested instantly for assault. Or the victim would just walk away with no motivation to stay.
I know I mainly focused on women being abused by men in my examples, but remember, men and children are often abused as well.
Do you see someone needlessly screaming in the face of another human being? Say something to them.
Do you see someone practically dragging someone else out and it looks like they’re being hurt? Intervene.
Do you see anyone smacking someone else around in front of everyone? For God’s sake, intervene and call the cops. Especially if it involves a child. (Please remember that a small tap on an unruly child’s behind isn’t usually abuse, its good old fashioned discipline. No hate for that please.)
If you have a friend that gets involved in a new relationship and they slowly change into someone completely different, please step in. This person will slowly become withdrawn, sad, maybe dress more conservative. Think a happy bubbly person suddenly never cracking a smile over things that used to make them happy. Body posture is also a good indicator. They might hunch more, cross their arms a lot, avoid eye contact. If it’s a woman (I don’t know about men), they may avoid contact with men at all. Let this person know you’re there. Offer them your support, your time, and your love. They’re going to need you more than you can imagine. And be persistent. The abuser may try to cut you out, DON’T LET THEM. You can’t force the victim to leave, but you can have an annoying presence until they make that decision on their own.
Click here to read Part Two of this post.