My next few posts will be highlighting (is that the right word?) the different types of domestic violence – what they look like, what it feels like, and especially stressing that these things are domestic violence even though they are not physical.
I think if there is one thing that I could get across to my friends, to my readers, this month is that domestic violence is not just physical harm. You could be in a relationship of domestic violence and abuse even if your partner doesn’t punch, kick, or hurt your body.
Intimidation is making someone else afraid – through looks, gestures, actions, and words. It is a form of verbal abuse that is used to control the other person. It’s used to get their way, to get you to do something you don’t want to do. It’s used to get you to shut up, stop complaining, and just take it – whatever it is. It’s a slow process of reducing your voice to nothing, your self esteem to nothing, your humanity to unworthy.
What does it look like?
Your partner punches the wall in anger, shows off his “strength,” throws the remote against the wall making it split into pieces. Your partner crushes your decor, breaks furniture, throws dishes – they use destruction of property as a means to make you afraid, to make you cower, to make you stop questioning them.
Your partner kicks your dog, throws a pet across the room, even kills your animals or threatens harm to your animals – to make you afraid. To hurt you, to break you down, to destroy you.
Your partner holds up weapons, pulls out a knife, loads his gun… with the intent of creating fear.
This happens because you tried to speak up. You tried to question the relationship, his (or her) behavior, you tried to voice your opinion, share your viewpoint.
You are not allowed to have a voice. You are not allowed to have an opinion. You are not allowed to speak up, question the behavior in the house, or be anything less than a loving partner.
Don’t you dare.
Dare and you’re asking for it. Walk on those eggshells, because who wants another fight? Who wants more property ruined? Who wants to deal with that kind of anger? Just stay quiet, keep your head down, it has to get better, right?
If you’ve never been in an abusive relationship, right now you are shaking your head incredulously, asking why does she allow it? Why does she stay? Why wouldn’t she just leave? I’d never let anyone treat me like that.
This is such a complicated question. The answers are many and difficult and the thought of trying to answer them creates shame and confusion and doubt.
I will answer those questions. They are, I think, the most important questions I will answer this month. I went back and forth on whether to address this first or last but decided the details of abuse needed to come first. So, first, we will learn what domestic violence is in all of it’s ugly facets.
Then, I will answer those questions. I will do my best to help you understand something that is not really comprehendible. I wonder, even now, how I will be able to explain it so that others can understand. I am praying the right words come to me on that day, because I think this is one of the most crucial parts that I want to get across this month.
These women… women like me in 2011… need love, acceptance, and help. The last thing they need is to be questioned on why they let it happen, on why they allowed it, on why they didn’t just do something about it.
It’s not their fault, friends. It wasn’t my fault. And it’s not your fault, if you are currently in an abusive relationship. Help is available… start here. Start with someone you trust. Start somewhere and don’t stop until you get the help you need.
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