There are 10 million children exposed to domestic violence each year.  In the US, women who experience physical violence by a partner every year totals 4,774,000.  To put these numbers in perspective, between 2001 and 2012, the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq was 6,488.  The number of American women that were murdered by a current or ex male partner during that same time was 11,766. That is nearly DOUBLE the amount of casualties lost during the war.

 

So what is domestic violence?  It is the willful intimidation, physical assault, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.  It includes physical violence, sexual assault, threats and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic abuse can vary dramatically. It can affect men, women and children, regardless of their ethnicity, race, age, religion, education or social status.

 

Even good relationships go bad.  It can happen to anyone, anywhere and often can be difficult to recognize as domestic abuse. This is a survivor’s story (It is a compilation of stories and all names have been changed):

 

It started as “love at first sight”, but ended as not happily ever after.

 

When I first saw Tyler I was taken in his kind eyes.  I melted when he glanced my way. We started dating. He was always so sweet, holding the doors open for me, taking me to dinner and shows.  We even started spending time with his family. Soon we moved in together. Our little apartment was our love nest, or so I thought.

 

It started as subtle questions about where I was, why my trips to the grocery store took so long, who I was with.  I didn’t know that this was the start of his control over me. Soon Mr. Charming had turned into a monster. He would never allow me out of our house.  Friendships and family slowly were taken away from me. Slaps turned into punches. The bruises harder to conceal. My bones were broken, but I was not allowed to go to the hospital to get them fixed.

 

Then one night he strangled me.  Apparently his dinner that I spent hours making, wasn’t right.  Who knows what was wrong with it. I was laying there as he choked me thinking maybe it would be ok if I died.  It would be a way out of this hell hole. I must have passed out because when I woke up he was no longer choking me.  He wasn’t anywhere in the house and his car was gone.

 

It didn’t take me long to decide to get out.  I didn’t pack anything for fear he would soon be back.  I grabbed my purse and ran. Soon a passing car picked me up on the road and brought me to the hospital.

 

I was able to move into a domestic violence shelter, begin to heal and move on. I am a survivor, and you can be too.

 

Women who leave their abuser are at a 75% greater risk of severe injury or death than those that stay.  It is the most dangerous time.

 

If you or someone you know needs help, or to understand more about domestic abuse, please contact the Community Referral Agency. The advocates are available 24/7 and can help you with a safety plan and refer you to medical resources that may be available to you as a survivor of domestic abuse.

 

For more information please visit: www.crashelter.org

 

Submitted by: Joan Spencer, Development Director at Community Referral Agency

Healthy Minute” is brought to you by healthyburnett.org