Domestic violence awareness month isn’t over just yet, and it’s never too late to discuss an issue that affects thousands of women. Awareness is key in the fight. When domestic violence is mentioned, people typically think of physical abuse. The image of a female with bruises, a black eye or other physical evidence comes to mind. Physical abuse is obvious abuse and easy to identify, however, what people fail to realize is that physical scars are not necessary to be a victim of abuse. Domestic abuse can take the form of emotional or verbal abuse as well as physical abuse. Although abuse is often considered a dirty little secret in relationships, it must be addressed. Abuse occurs across all socioeconomic levels and cultures.
Given the public is often distracted by social media, reality cameras, paparazzi and top selling albums, it is easy to forget that celebrities are real people with real issues who are also victims of abuse. Most recently, allegations of abuse have been in the media with several celebrities such as Chad Johnson and Eleven Lozada or Rihanna and Chris Brown. While many fans were surprised and angered by their stories, countless women have similar stories on a daily basis that don’t make the headlines.
Women often live in fear of disclosing the abuse. It has been reported that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. This violence is most commonly at the hands of a loved one. It is estimated that 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. While abuse can also occur towards men, 85 percent of victims of domestic abuse are women. Feel like this story doesn’t apply to you? Wrong. It is highly likely that you know someone who is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse. Usually a person endures significant emotional or verbal abuse before any evidence of physical abuse occurs. If you still think you don’t know anyone that has been a victim of domestic abuse, it could be that you just don’t know the signs of abuse. An abuser will:
• Isolate you from friends, family and activities
• Has unpredictable anger or mood shifts
• Uses guilt to manipulate
• Jokingly verbalizing threatening behaviors
• Makes all decisions for both of you
• Blames you for all problems
The most common question asked about victims is, “Why don’t they leave?” Victims of abuse are traumatized. Breaking away and leaving is often as traumatic as the abuse itself. Women often truly love the person who abused them, but they do not like their behavior, therefore women get caught up in the cycle of abuse. The cycle typically involves an abusive episode, followed by an abuser apologizing and promising it will never happen again and then giving a nice gift or kind gesture. After the honeymoon period of things is going well, the cycle starts all over again. There are several reasons why women stay in abusive relationships. It’s important to understand them. Some include: Low self-esteem, fear, believing things will change, guilt, shame and embarrassment. Often time financial difficulties can be a factor as well.
Domestic abuse is a serious issue. No matter how well women hide physical scars with makeup, their emotional scars will still remain. These emotional scars are often deep and permanent. Emotional scars also impact all other relationships. Psychotherapy is recommended to help address the abuse and heal the emotional scars. Healing starts long after the physical scars are gone.
For more facts and information on domestic violence, or to make a donation, visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.