As several of my Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers did, I worked for many years with survivors of domestic violence. It happens to women and men, to poor and rich, to unknowns and even the most famous. Mostly the question is, how much it costs to hide what’s happening and what’s at stake.
I feel like people have been trying to educate the general public for so long about DV and the reasons why it happens and the reasons why people stay in relationships that could threaten their lives. It baffles me that it’s not generally understood. Especially by the person affected.
Usually, physical abuse isn’t what comes first. The abuse can creep up slowly. A putdown here or there. An odd excuse to keep you away from family or friends. The violence often ramps up once you’ve been cut off from other people. By then, you feel trapped.
Having been married more times than I’d like to confess, I admit there are lies one tells oneself to keep moving forward. It’s not so bad. At least he doesn’t (smoke, drink, stay out all night, hit me, stalk me). Sure, there are people who have it worse than you. But why shouldn’t you want better? Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. You don’t get a second take at this life if you wasted too much of it settling for second, third or fourth-best.
In the current political climate, when women’s rights are being threatened or at least disregarded, some abusers are trying to make the subjugation of women a new “normal.” DON’T LET THEM.
How do YOU feel about you, in your relationship?
, describes a list of symptoms a victim may have:
Victims of an abusive relationship may experience some of the following emotions and behaviors:
- Agitation, anxiety and chronic apprehension
- Constant state of alertness that makes it difficult for them to relax or sleep
- A sense of hopelessness, helplessness or despair because the victim believes they will never escape the control of their abuser
- Fear that one cannot protect oneself or one’s children. This person will turn down the assistance offered by relatives, friends or professionals.
- Feeling paralyzed by fear to make decisions or protect oneself
- A belief that one deserves the abuse
- A belief that one is responsible for the abuse
- Flashbacks, recurrent thoughts and memories of the violence and nightmares of the violence
- Emotional reactions to reminders of domestic violence
Victims of domestic violence can also have physical symptoms that aren’t directly caused by physical abuse. These symptoms are instead caused by the constant stress and tension of living in an abusive relationship. These symptoms include:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Chronic pain
- Restless sleep or inability to sleep
- Genital soreness
- Pelvic pain
- Back pain
Does any of this sound familiar? For you or someone you love? Help is available at every income level and social standing. Find a public computer, do some research and reach out for that help. Start at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, at thehotline.org. Start at your local shelter. START.