You can’t tell by looking if that guy who is so sweet and kind to you is also an abuser. He could begin battering you on you wedding night, Everything could be wonderful until you get pregnant.The loving man you married could begin battering your pregnant belly. Where is that wonderful guy you married? Everything could be all right until he doesn’t get his first promotion.
Is it your fault? No. How can I be sure? Abusers will always blame their behavior on anyone but themselves. You will find that he is never pleased with what you do. Dinner isn’t on the table when he comes home. Or the children are too noisy when he comes home. Or you stopped at the store on the way home from work. A man was looking at you at a party. Your family wants to come and visit you for the Holidays. One of the children needs to go to football practice and needs his father to give him a ride. You ran out of milk and need to go out. He always looks at events as your failure to meet his standards.
So what is the difference between a guy being upset with you and living with the batterer? If your significant other, boyfriend, spouse or teen-age son punches, hit, pushes, or slaps, you he is abusing you. If he shoves you face into dinner, or punches a hole in a wall, he is a batterer. You Can’t Change Him!
Physical abuse most often is accompanied by emotional abuse. If you are being called a pig, stupid, a whore, a bitch, lazy, a lousy cook, fat slob, you are in an abusive relationship. The truth is that it isn’t your fault. And you have millions of sisters who are hearing the same words and are feeling the same fists. After the first incident, he will often cry, swear it will never happen again. He will also tell you he loves you more than life. This is the honeymoon aspect of the cycle of violence. It won’t last. Even if you call the police and he spends the night in jail, he will abuse you again. Unless you leave and get to a shelter or someplace else that is safe, you will be expected, when he comes home, to sleep with the enemy. To lie down in bed next to the man who spit on you, pulled your hair, called you a whore in front of your children and then punched you over and over. Lie down with the man that you love and who sent you to the Emergency Room. Female victims are the only victims of a violent crime who often must sleep with the person who hurt her.
If you are in a violent relationship, begin to squirrel money away, and medications for you and the children. Hide a fully packed suitcase so that if you and the children need to flee in the night you can quietly get out. Any taxi driver or bus driver can take you to a shelter. The only thing the shelter will ask of you is not to reveal its address. Abusers coming to the door is not good. I can remember a night an abuser showed up to teach us a lesson. He had a gun. I called the police and they hauled him away. Every woman and child in the shelter must be kept safe.
Advocates across the nation work together to keep women and children safe. Over the years, Domestic Violence advocates have gathered to light candles and mourn those who lost their lives to an abuser. We also celebrate those who are alive and no longer living in fear with the person who hurts them. In October 1987, we observed the very first Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Ending violence in the home requires national vigilance and dedication from every sector of our country. Everyone in America must stand with advocates, the first responders, victim service providers and our criminal justice system to protect those who Live with the Enemy. Women and children need the basics of food, shelter, warm clothes. They need counseling, financial assistance so she doesn’t have to return to the man who beat her face to a bloody pulp. She needs help to find a place to live without fear.
I commend every woman who has worked in Domestic Violence. I began in the 70’s and saving lives was my motivation. Shelter workers are some of the bravest people I have ever known. If you have some time, call your communities hotline and volunteer or volunteer at a shelter.
You can help. We can do it together.