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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Domestic Violence Rates Have Gone Up. But Who Gives A Shit?

I will admit, I know nothing about boxing. I don't know the names when the big fights are coming up and I don't know their life stories. Honestly, if the Buckeyes aren't playing on Saturday, I could give a shit about sports. So after the big fight last month I read that the guy who won the fight, Floyd Mayweather, had been arrested or cited 7 times for domestic violence. I sat silent when I read that and went numb.
Eventually my eyes wandered back to the computer to read the rest of the story. My mind was racing. I hoped the article answered my biggest question, "How does someone commit 7 offenses and not have been sentenced to a lifetime in jail?" Of course, there is no answer. This is not shocking. This is our society. We have plenty of excuses for domestic violence. We have plenty of opportunities to dismiss allegations and blame the victim. Maybe she was asking for it? Why didn't she leave if he was so mean? She is lying so she can go after him for his money.
I literally ache when I see stories about abusers being offered opportunities to enter society without having been sentenced or even referred for intensive therapy. The fact is, no one gives a shit. And we proved it by celebrating a huge sporting event and excitedly waiting to see a man, who should be removed from our society for his violence, display profound violence. And we paid him $180 million to do it.
I was in an abusive relationship 23 years ago. He was a monster. When I finally got away from him I didn't date again for 17 years because I couldn't figure out what signs I had missed and didn't want to make the same mistakes again.
I don't like to ever think of myself as a victim because I have always been very independent and outspoken. I have always taken care of myself and have sincerely, and quite naively, never feared any person or situation. Because he was actually crazy, however, I didn't defend myself. I was pregnant when the abuse started and my desire to never make things worse, coupled with the understanding that his rage had no limits, was the only reason that I never tried to fight back. I doubt anyone who knew me just a few years earlier in high school would have imagined me ending up where I had. But there I was.
He was an absolute puzzle to me. I like to really try to understand people. I am very good at it. There was no understanding him, though. Nothing needed to set him off. He would switch from happy(ish) to violent with no warning. He controlled every aspect of my life. I wasn't allowed to answer the phone or the door. I was not allowed to have company. I was not allowed to go anywhere without him. He would not let me be alone in my home. If I went to the bathroom, he came with me. If I took a bath, he would sit on the toilet the entire time. My family and I became all but estranged. I now understand that all of these are common tactics for abusers. At the time, however, it was beyond my comprehension that a person could behave the way he did.
He liked to taunt me when he was going to hurt me. Sometimes he wouldn't end up hurting me because, I guess, the threat was enough fun for him. Asshole. He often used objects to hit me in the head. He said it didn't leave a mark. I'm sure it did, but my hair covered it. Dickhead. He dragged me through the apartment by my ponytail at 8 months pregnant. He chased me with a hammer. And the night before I had my daughter he actually broke her crib throwing me into it and then pummeled me so many times that my entire left side was bruised when I went to have her the next morning. Motherfucker.
The worst was a couple of weeks later, however. I was not listening to him. I was exhausted and wanted to take a nap. But I wasn't allowed to take a nap in the bedroom because he couldn't see me. I took the baby and went to bed anyway. He kept peeking around the door and making creepy voices to wake me up. I got pissed and told him to leave me alone. He tore into the room and jumped on top of me on the bed. The baby was sleeping in the crease of my armpit and he was on my belly. He put his hands around my throat and choked me. I could tell by his eyes that he wasn't going to stop. I kept trying to get him off of me but couldn't. I was thinking that there was no way I could leave my child alone in this world with him. I was desperate to get away. I needed to get him off of me. I noticed that the white ceiling beyond his head above me was turning blue. I knew that was it.
I woke up. Obviously. But I had no reason to believe that I would. With help, we were able to get away from him that next week. I found a police officer and asked him to take me back to my house and remove my boyfriend because he was abusive. He asked me whether or not my boyfriend lived there. I said that he did but assured him that only my name was on the lease. He asked me if he had lived there longer than 2 weeks. I said that he had and could not believe the direction it seemed this conversation was going. He then asked me if he had ever received a piece of mail at the apartment. I told him that he had. The officer finally told me that my apartment was his legal home and I did not have the right to remove him and make him homeless. He could only take him if he was arresting him. He asked if I had proof of the abuse. He noted that I was neither bruised nor bloody and then asked me if I had any witnesses. I looked at my witness, my 3 week old daughter, and thought, "This has to be a joke."
No joke. He followed me to my apartment and offered me an escort. He said I had 5 minutes to collect all of our things so that we could move out of my home. No shit! This was the law in 1992. And it was 4 days before Christmas. The officer told me that we could go to a homeless shelter if I wanted to and that I could press charges against my abuser in the morning. But, he assured me, without any evidence or witnesses he would not be charged. So, with that encouragement, I left the state.

Last year when the video of Ray Rice knocking his fiancée out was released, someone posted it on Facebook. A friend of mine commented that we had no idea what the woman had done to instigate the situation and suggested we wait until the whole story came out. I knew that people thought that way, but I was offended that someone I had called a friend would say something like that. It was like she betrayed all women. She betrayed me. I was pissed. I was sorry that typing in all caps was the best that I could do because I desperately wanted to get in her face and scream.
There are certainly women who are vicious. I accept that some women will lie for attention or to get back at a man. They exist. They are awful, spiteful people. But to go into any conversation about a woman being abused assuming that they may not have been? Or to look for an excuse and make her the instigator and, in turn, justify abuse? That is not only cruel, but its dangerous. You cannot hold every woman accountable for things that other women have done. You cannot ever allow yourself to believe there is causation beyond the abusers own violent intentions.
It is incredibly difficult for a woman to even come forward. There is often a lot of fear, shame, dependency and loneliness in the back of their minds that they have to come to terms with before they can even think about seeking help. No facet of society (and especially any member of the female half of it) can initially question the validity of an abuse declaration. The first instinct and action must be for their protection. The alternative is unthinkable.
I don't have a passive bone in my body. I am tough. I am smart. I am resourceful. I am strong. I am brave. I am responsible. I am independent. And I was abused.

It can happen to anyone. And it does. I am quick to point that out to people when they look for reasons to disbelieve a woman's accusations of abuse. No one knows what is going on in another persons home. My abuser was, quite literally, a sociopath. He could convince anyone that he was a good guy. It was fascinating to watch. The converse, however, was a nightmare to experience.
I have always had 5% of my check go to a domestic violence shelter called Choices. When I was leaving my abuser, the police didn't even tell me there was a shelter like that. They existed. It was a thing back then. I was told I could go to a homeless shelter. A place that really knew how to care for a woman in that situation would've been something I would have felt comfortable considering had it been explained to me. I was afraid and confused. I chose to leave my home and my belongings and leave the state. That was 1992. What is it like in 2015, I wonder? Are women treated more respectfully and given the support and options they need to move on in their lives?
Apparently, no.
[Recently] in one 24-hour period there were 18 calls per hour for help involving domestic violence in Missouri, reports the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)" but that 47% of requests for shelter went unmet.
A survey of domestic violence programs in North Dakota found that 375 victims were served in one day last year, with 32 requests for help going unfulfilled because of funding and staff shortages.
In just one 24-hour period, local domestic violence programs across the country provided help and safety to 67,646 adults and children who were victims of domestic violence. Yet on the very same day, there were 10,871 requests that could not be met due to lack of funding.

How many times have you read or heard a headline "The recent [fill in the blank with irrelevant name] murder has reminded us of domestic violence issues." I always ask myself, "Who the fuck has forgotten?" Its society. Society manages to forget. Its the society that tells itself that it is not misogynistic. Its the society that tells itself that 'feminism' is a bad word. Its the society that tells itself that women already have equality and just need to move on. As long as society manages to exist with occasional reminders that women and children are living in terror in states which annually take funding from programs to help them, we have all forgotten. Collectively, as a society, we perpetuate these tragedies by inviting those to legislate who have absolutely no care for any lives that can't ensure their next reelection.
How do we stop this? How do we get enough Americans to pay attention and give a shit about who they are voting for? I have no idea. If I knew I would not be writing and bitching about those 'representatives' every day. But as long as they keep their positions, these numbers will continue to get worse every year. And apparently, in our society, that's just fine.


  1. Hear Hear!
    Women who have a relationship with an abuser are catagorized as ignorant, self effacing, weak with a low self esteem victim mentality. Why are we still blaming the victim?
    I am strong; I'm damn smart... So smart and so strong that I was strong enough to raise my child, keep my elder mother in my home, raise all our food, see our clothes, do home repairs and build a kitchen alone, feed and provide necessities for a family of 4 on less than $40 a month. And yet, as a homemaker, caregiver, and mother, I was financially dependent on my husbands income and insurance, as were my daughter And mother. I was strong and smart enough to get him into counseling when I discovered his familial mental illness, get him a job he could keep, and us a home he wouldn't have to upkeep; stash money to leave when my daughter was of college age, when I realized he was lying in counseling and fooling his overworked counselor, keep my mother and daughter safe... But an emergency with my daughter sucked up my money stash. When I discovered he'd not paid any of my bills for a full year (as it was his year to do finances) I confronted him and he nearly killed me (but did permanently injured me)

    Yet, I was not safe: he poured cement down my water well, rewired my furnace intending it to burn my home down, with his girlfriend came in and stole everything of value, stole my and my elderly moms life savings.

    What did law enforcement say at these events? "Is his name in the deed too?" When my answer was yes, because the divorce hadn't yet gone through, the answer was ALWAYS, "then he has a right to do what he wants in his house." And STILL he kept his job, charmed people with his sick clinical narcissistic charisma; I was the idiot, over his being a criminal. Why?
    I'm strong, smart... But yes, I was abused.
    Stop blaming the victims. Recognize the perpetrators.

    1. Amen Sister! And you should be so proud of your strength and resilience. It's too bad that we are maligned for ending up struggling in the same society that demands our struggle. Thank you for your truth and I am so sorry about what you've been through.

  2. It is really scary to see something when there are people who do amazing job of trying to prevent it. The problem is the society is not ready to accept the fact that this is very serious crime, and they suppress the effort of making this change possible. I wrote a book based on my life, I created a radio show about DV and I am trying every day to give the necessary tools to women and girls to leave an abuser and do it safely. All I have been receiving is cold shoulder, I am accused of being against Christians in USA whole bunch of other accusations. The sad part is that people listen to this son sense. I had a free seminar today to help women leave based on their individual case and ask us victims, but no one called, It is so disturbing to see how brain washed and afraid are the victims. How we can prevent DV? The only way is to speak and speak, silence is not going to male a difference. Here it is link to my website and show.