02 October 2014

Domestic Violence Month -- Once is One Time Too Many

Once I heard a female church leader say of her new husband, "He only has the first time to hit me, then I'm gone."

Her veiled attempt at sounding empowered really revealed her inherent fears, perhaps even realities, that other forms of abuse from intimate partners had already desensitized her from even considering that anyone is to be given a 'first time' to cause bodily harm. For her to voice that being hit would motivate her to leave him (of course, after numerous times of ill-advised church people warnings about man being the head and theological misuse of wives be submissive counseling) made me aware of her lack of seeing and knowing all of the other manifestations of domestic violence BEFORE physical violence takes place.

Know the signs. They tend to escalate rather than dissipate.

I am a survivor of domestic violence -- from a female partner. Her abuse came in this order:  #4 Isolation; #3 Control; #5 Sabotage; and #1 Intensity.  However, it was sitting before a therapist and hearing her say, "I don't abuse her. I have never hit her.", catapulted me back to the feelings of dread when I heard the female church leader say those words about the 'first time' almost 30 years prior.  I did not remember anything else about that counseling session as I was clearly thinking, perhaps even honestly for the first time in a long time, about how to stay strong, get a plan, and get out of harms way.  I did not have a 'first time' clause in my emotional and spiritual make up. It took six months -- SIX MONTHS -- before I was able to get out of striking distance.  But, I did.  And you can, too.

Know you are strong enough to stay calm, get a plan, and get out BEFORE suffering a black eye or assuming the prone position in a pine box. Love, does not require a 'you get to hit me one time' clause.

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