…The 1 in 4 women who experience domestic violence in their lifetime. The mother, the sister, the daughter, the friend. The 1 in 9 men who experience domestic violence in their lifetime. The father, the brother, the son, the friend.
Do you know 1? Have you been the 1? Are you still the 1?
Through the media, we see stories of people who are the 1. These stories are tragic examples of individuals who were unable to get the help and support needed to leave these situations. Their stories are our reminder that as long as there is 1, that is 1 too many. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King.
The ones who are able to leave these relationships often have to overcome ongoing effects, including trauma, loss of supports, loss of relationships, financial barriers, custody issues, and an overall impact to their own self-worth. It is easy for those who have not experienced this to not fully comprehend how difficult it is to leave, to ask for help, or to gain the self-confidence in order to face their abuser going forward. We hope to make this process less daunting by raising awareness of the problem, as well as of the places to turn for help.
Domestic violence is not always visible to the those looking from the outside. “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” – Charles Baudelaire. It may be the harsh words spoken which leave no bruise or the isolation from family, friends and positive supports. Perhaps its the intentional withholding of financial resources or not allowing access to a career. For others, it may be the continuing threats of harm to their children, their pets, and their loved ones. To some, it may be the coercion to do things which are against their own morals or values. It can be endless guilt trips and shaming to convince the 1 they are to blame. Playing mind games, such as, “look what you made me do,” and, “if it weren’t for you…” takes a toll on anyone. Whatever it looks like, there are supports and help available.
If you’re not the 1, then there are things you can look for to help someone in this situation. Things to watch for include: withdrawing from support systems and daily activities, hyper-vigilance and often appearing on edge, unexplained or excessive marks, bruises, or injuries, decline in self-care and/or appearance, or lack of autonomy away from their partner. Loved ones can offer support, remain nonjudgmental, and approach those with compassion. Those on the outside need to understand how frightening it is to take steps toward leaving an abusive relationship. Research has shown on average the 1 will attempt to leave seven times before they are successful. With every attempt, they will need patience, understanding, empathy, and unconditional positive regard. Please understand that the highest risk time in this person’s life will be the first year after they are able to successfully leave.
For those who are still the 1, please know that you are seen, you are heard, you are valued and you are deserving of a healthy love. As Christine Mason Miller wrote, “at any given moment you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end.” So, let's rewrite that ending, together.
Team Blog by:
Angela Gadeken, LIMHP, LADC
Amanda Milander-Mace, LIMHP, CPC
Ashton Ohde, LIMHP
Paul Davies, LIMHP