Domestic Violence is so much more than physical harm.
When my daughter was 5 months old, I told my then husband that I needed space. I told him that he needed to go and get his life figured out before we could move forward. At this point, I so did not understand how unhealthy our relationship was. I had no idea what domestic violence encompassed – I just knew something had to change. He refused to work and we had been evicted, lost both our cars, lost everything. He had convinced me to quit my job after my punkin was born and now we had nothing. Nothing but one precious baby girl that deserved more.
My daughter gave me the strength to make the first move, to take that first step, but the most dangerous time for someone in an abusive relationship is when they are trying to leave. You want to know just one of the reasons that women don’t leave? It’s dangerous. Truly dangerous.
My ex-husband took my daughter and started walking away. Down the street. Just leaving and taking her with him. He had often told me that if I left him, he would kill himself and he’s leaving with my baby? I followed, begging him to give her to me.
He ended up running into traffic with her. Saw a big pickup truck coming and took off running. I grabbed his shirt, ripping it, screaming and the truck swerved out of the way. My brother showed up and was able to help me get her out of his hands. I ran down the road screaming in terror and shock, clutching my baby to my chest. I didn’t even know it was me screaming. I didn’t even know I was running.
My brother got me to a safe place where I found fingerprints – whole hand prints really left on my daughter’s body. I took her to the ER to get her checked out. The police had already been called and I spent time talking with them and giving them my statement. DCF was called because of the nature of what happened.
Here’s the point of why I’m writing this post today. DCF showed up the next day to question me, the situation, to investigate and do their job. One of the questions she asked was, “is there domestic violence in the home?” And I said no. I said no, friends.
She handed me a piece of paper and asked me to sign it saying that there was no domestic violence. It was a checklist of the things that make up domestic violence. I scanned the list, my heart dropping. Feeling nauseous.
Then I went back through and reread every single item on the list. Nearly every thing, every behavior on that list, was something that I experienced often. All of these things that were not physical punching, hurting, or harm were the things that make up domestic violence and I had been through nearly all of them. That was my life. I looked up at the investigator with confusion and told her that I couldn’t sign this.
That was the beginning of my journey into understanding what domestic violence is.
I wish I still had that list. However, here are some of the things that make up domestic violence that have nothing to do with physical harm.
These are a few of the things, friends. Just a few. They don’t involve the abuser ever touching you but they are very much the basis of domestic violence. I experienced most of these and never would have labeled them as domestic violence… yet, that’s exactly what it is.
Learn, friends. Please. Understand that domestic violence isn’t just physical abuse. Share with others. You shouldn’t be in a relationship of unbalanced power, fear, and control. You should not be living your life walking on eggshells, fearful of every move. You shouldn’t have to be less of a person to keep the peace in your household. You shouldn’t be thinking – it’s not that bad. He doesn’t hit me.
You deserve more, so much more.
Help is available, start here:
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Respect – the National Dating Abuse Helpline
Text “loveis” to 22522
Live chat at www.loveisrespect.org