October is a commanding month, pulling our attention from fun events like National Pierogi Day, National Sausage Pizza Day, and Halloween, and directing our attention to some big problems. Larger than life issues like AIDS Awareness Month, National Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, National Bullying Prevention Month, and Breast Cancer Awareness are just a few of the life-altering, heart-shattering, nothing-will-ever-be-the-same events.
Then we have Domestic Violence Awareness...
According to Breastcancer.org, about 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Compare that with numbers from Safe Horizon, the largest non-profit victim services agency in the United States, which show that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
Are we aware? Yes, but perhaps not as aware as we should be.
Did you see the news just this week? A father drove his vehicle into a lake, deliberately, killing his soon to be ex-wife and three children ages 3, 2 and 1.
In the tiny country town where my mother grew up, a husband is charged with hiring another man to kill his wife and children. The woman was brutally murdered in front of the children, who survived.
Where does it end? What can we do?
Last October 2014, Resolution Research conducted a study to understand how many people have either personally experienced domestic violence or have experienced domestic violence through the observance or eyes of others. The purpose of the study was to get answers to these serious questions and to raise awareness, plus Resolution used it as an opportunity to donate to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence on behalf of each participant.
The surveys came back, the stories poured in, questions were answered, the results were analyzed, the donation given.
- 93% of the total survey respondents stated that the person(s) who abused them was either a partner, spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend.
Other answers showed us that:
- 49% stated that restraining orders were not at all effective.
- 15% of those surveyed are currently in an abusive relationship.
Although numbers and statistics give us the big picture, it’s the spoken words, the written stories from real people who tug at our conscience and our heart-strings. This October, we reached back out to some of the participants in 2014 and here are a few of their own words*:
Some talked about domestic violence incidents reported in the media.
"I do (follow some reports), but there are times when I can't bear to watch the news or even a movie about violence against women." Mandy
"No, never." Anonymous
Some are still afraid and have nightmares.
"It's been a few years since I experienced any abuse. But just taking the survey and reliving all I went through, I could feel myself almost like sink into that shell again." Anonymous
Some get scared.
"When someone loses their temper, the old feelings and fears return." Lydia
Some still cannot talk about it, don't want to talk about it.
"It's in the past and that's where I leave it." Anonymous
Some find healing through volunteering like Heidi who volunteered at a Domestic Violence shelter.
"I got training to help others in abusive or dysfunctional relationships deal more effectively with their lives." Sara
"It helped me to heal to get certified as a rape crisis counselor." Lucy
Some offer hope and encouragement to others.
"Stay strong." Anonymous
"If anyone is struggling, I am always willing to listen and try to help. This cycle must stop." Anonymous
"Talk to someone so there is a record of it and get out as soon as possible. Abusers don't change, whether it is mental, physical or oral, and you or your children could experience severe harm or even death." Linda
Some offer strong advice and words of experience and wisdom.
"Staying never makes it better. Plan for the worst possible scenario. If you think, 'oh, he'll never do that' you are probably deluding yourself. Don't be afraid to lean on your friends, who might help you more than you think. Don't rely on religious leaders to help you out. If you have children, protect them from the abuser as much as you can--and the best is to leave so they don't see you getting beat. " Tracie
"No matter what, it is not your fault. And don't worry about people judging what they don't understand. Most people don't understand the many layers of abuse so they usually don't understand the challenge of leaving." Tina
Some still haven't healed but reached a safer existence.
"Am I happy? I don't know. I have a roof over my head, a vehicle, pets, and a husband." Lisa
"My Father was abusive to my Mom and all of his children...he passed away in 1982...I was free of my Father's rule and I just prefer to not be involved in a relationship." Anonymous
"I believe it is possible to heal, but it has not been like that for me. I envy those who can move on to another relationship. It takes amazing trust and resilience." Kelli
Some of the abusers have died.
"My ex-husband committed suicide about seven years ago so I no longer have to worry that he might show up on my doorstep..." Anonymous
Some abusers still threaten and harass.
"He still tries to contact me...Today, I am not working. In fact, I can barely leave my house as I am mostly agoraphobic." Sandy
Some gave reasons that they stayed.
"Financial." "Low self-esteem." "Abused growing up/used to it." "Stayed because of the children." " Fear."
Some are still with their abusers.
"Just taking the survey made me realize the severity of the situation." Anonymous
"I know this isn't healthy but I keep staying with him because he's sadly treated me better than any other guy..." Theresa
To all of you, we thank you for not just giving us your opinions and sharing your stories, but for letting your voices be heard. We offer all our hope and prayers that you continue to find the courage and strength you need to live a violence-free life.
*names have been changed to protect identities.
NEED HELP OR MORE INFORMATION?
HOTLINE: Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
List of Shelters for Women in US: http://www.womenshelters.org
Safe Horizon: http://www.safehorizon.org/
Warning Signs of Abuse: http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/
What does an abusive relationship look like? http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/
What does a healthy relationship look like? http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/healthy-relationships/
What is Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence? The Office on Women’s Health Explains: http://womenshealth.gov/violence-against-women/types-of-violence/domestic-intimate-partner-violence.html
Who or what is RESOLUTION RESEARCH? Resolution Research is a 25-year-old, woman-owned full service market research firm which conducts all types of qualitative and quantitative studies. Resolution has its own focus group facilities in Denver and a proprietary panel of medical professionals (www.TheMedicalPanel.com) and consumers (www.ResolutionPanel.com) and invites persons to join and participate in paid studies across the planet.
About the Author: Tami Bluett is an Assistant Project Manager with Resolution Research and a former Jobs Program Specialist for the JOBS program in NYS. Tami worked with many people who were victims of domestic violence. This project was a poignant reminder that domestic violence remains a problem for all and has yet to be solved. Contact: Tami.firstname.lastname@example.org