I remember hearing hits, screams, and crying coming from an apartment below me when I was a graduate student living in Washington, D.C. I called the police and ran to the apartment I had been hearing the screams from.
A man opened the door in a white, sleeveless undershirt that I have heard jokingly referred to as a wife beater shirt (would you believe it?). He was sweating heavily and breathing hard, as if in the middle of a workout. Except, he had on dirty khakis and the punching bag was clearly human.
Being a naive, idealistic, young social worker, I accused him of hurting someone and I demanded for him to show me his family members so I could see if they were alright. He laughed in my face. Despite calling the cops several times, nobody showed up. I am sure his family got the message loud and clear that they were on their own with that monster. That sucks.
Important Statistics to Know:
- Domestic violence is a leading cause of death for women (more than car accidents, muggings, rape, etc. combined)
- More than 3 women a day are murdered by husbands or boyfriends.
- 1 in 5 teenagers are threatened with physical violence when dating.
- 63% of teens imprisoned between 11-30 are there for killing mother’s boyfriend/partner who was assaulting her. These children will probably go on to assault their partners due to violence they have seen.
- Battering occurs in all racial and socioeconomic groups. Men are victims too. It is definitely happening in your neighborhood or to someone you know.
Got It Girls Girls: Victims of domestic violence are all around us. Contact your local domestic violence agency for more information if it’s happening with someone you know.
If you know an adult who is being abused, do not tell them to “break it off”or “just leave him/her!” Victims have been brainwashed and this kind of pressure will have them pull the other direction. Instead, help them put together a safety plan and tell them that you are there to support them with whatever they decide to do. Give them options, support, encouragement and don’t let them be isolated from you.
(When teenagers are in this type of relationship, or if there are kids involved, that is a whole different matter! Any time children are involved, safety is a priority even if it means calling the child abuse hotline in your area.)
Call the police immediately if you are aware of it happening. It was dumb of me to get involved so quickly without support and back-up. Get involved but don’t sacrifice your own safety too. That helps nobody!
I just did a post on the Oscar Pistorius/domestic violence murder trial. Check it out and sign up: Why Oscar Pistorius Will Not Be Found Guilty
Cherilynn Veland is a therapist living in Chicago.
She also blogs about home, work, life and love