When a Home Isn’t Safe
It’s a disease of hate that comes wrapped in an appearance of love. It’s around us, it infects our communities, it damages those who often have no history of discord. It’s a horrid nightmare when you’re in it, it’s a hopeless feeling to see someone in it and not be able to help. Domestic violence has made appearances in the news the last few months, as well as conversations on social media and ‘in real life.’
Real life. Real life is when the child knocks desperately on the door of a neighbor saying her dad is hitting her mom and they need help. Real life is when a child dials 911 for help, an argument in the background is heard and the line goes dead. It’s a horrifying feeling to imagine what is happening, to fill in blanks that may or may not be accurate.
October is Domestic Violence month and it’s something we don’t like to talk about. It’s foolish to think it doesn’t happen in rural areas – I know it does. It destroys lives. It ends lives. It forever scars in ways that the person isn’t quite the same. Ever.
A rural town had a domestic violence issue – the victim had a skull fracture but was too embarrassed to admit how it happened. Accidents happen you know. Falls. Being hit with inanimate objects that you can’t talk about. Shame.
It’s easy to feel sorry for someone with physical injuries. Horrific injuries too often make the news – and if this entry gets just one person to get help before then, it’s worth the time to write.
It’s often thought it’s just men beating women, but that’s not the case. The above rural town victim was a man, battered by the women who promised to love him. It never made the papers because it wasn’t reported. Shame. He shouldn’t have let it happen. He couldn’t have stopped it. The tirade against him in his home, behind closed doors, he couldn’t report and couldn’t defend himself, lest he be accused. Who believes the man is the target not the aggressor? It’s not a joke, save the snickers and snide comments.
It is easy to believe women are victims of domestic violence. It’s easy to see bruises, but not all domestic violence leaves bruises. Some leaves scars – deep scars. Mistrust. Doubt. Women can be abusers too. While 1 out of 4 women will be in a domestic violence situation in their lifetime, 40% of severe physical violence victims are men. Inexcusable.
How does someone handle hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of animals daily, repairing fragile legs, dealing with fractious horses and yet when asked what she wants to do or what she wants to eat says “I don’t know” because making a decision is too much of an argument? How does controlling, isolation, insulting eat at self esteem? How does that progress to self hatred and suicide looks like an option? How do children learn hitting is acceptable and bullying is the way to survive? If you think survival of the fittest is for animals remember humans are animals.
Domestic violence can leave fear that manifests in nightmares. Screaming in sleep memories. Tears for ‘no reason’. Hidden bruises. It’s past time to stop blaming the victim. She, or he, did nothing wrong except trusting someone that betrays that trust. Some stay because there’s nowhere to go, or they think others won’t understand or maybe this time will be different.
Make a plan…remove yourself from the situation. Don’t go back. The cycle is hard to break – the controlling becomes threats. The threats become action. Sometimes jealousy takes an edge. Then there’s the makeups…it won’t happen again, apologies. Until it happens again.
Then there’s the trip down the stairs that most know was a push. There’s the bruises in places that don’t come from a fall. There’s unspeakable things done by those we love, who promised to love us.
It’s hard to admit perceived failure at not being able to make a marriage work. Get help, work through it. There is life beyond domestic violence. There are people who love you. There are people who care without manipulation, lies, fists or threats.
These snippets of stories are all true. Some were urban location, many were rural. All were wrong. The only thing, perhaps, worse than going through it is watching someone you care about go through it and not be able to help in a meaningful way.
If you’re in a bad situation that’s spiraling, get help. There are resources, people that you can call. Don’t be a statistic – be a survivor.