Domestic Violence is not something that is discussed enough.  When we don’t talk about things, they remain a secret, which can be deadly in the case of domestic violence.  I believe talking about domestic violence is key to ending it altogether.

As a survivor of teen dating abuse, I’ve heard many questions, misconceptions, and even some judgments about domestic violence that were somewhat surprising to me.  I can’t blame people though, that is simply ignorance.  When someone isn’t educated about something, they’re just ignorant to it, and that’s fine, but if we can get more people educated about domestic violence, the truth of it, maybe we can open people’s minds to learning and understanding it to better help end domestic violence.

I was searching the internet and found a great website about Domestic Violence:  National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) and thought I would share the information.  Here is some insight on Frequently Asking Questions about Domestic Violence that may open your mind:

  1. What is domestic violence?
    1. Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical, emotional, psychological, financial, and/or sexual abuse.
      • I experienced all of these types of abuse during my abusive relationship (or ” relationshit”as I often refer to it).  It began with emotional and psychological abuse, then when we had my mind broken down enough, the physical abuse began, then, since he didn’t have a job, he began to coerce me into spending all of my earned money on him and whatever he wanted, and finally, he abused me sexually.  I feel lucky that he only sexually abused me a few times, but it was still scarring, nonetheless.
    2. A persuasive, life-threatening crime that affects millions of individuals across the United States regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, or education.
  2.  Why do victims stay with or return to abusers?
    1. Battered make it very difficult for victims to escape relationships
    2. Every odd is against victims when contemplating leaving
    3. Abusers work very hard to keep victims in relationships
    4. There is a real fear of death or more abuse if they leave
      • Whenever I would make any indication or comment that I would reveal his secret of being an abuser, or leaving the relationship, he would tap into his incredible ability to emotionally and psychologically abuse me into believing that nobody else would ever want me because I was damaged, broken, and unlovable.
    5. A victim’s risk of getting killed greatly increases when they are in the process of leaving or have just left
      • After I turned 18, during an episode of abuse, I got so angry that I revealed I was going to leave him and press charges because I could do that on my own now, but it only made things worse; that day was one of the worst beatings I ever received by him.
    6. Batterers are very good at making victims think that the abuse is their fault; victims often believe that if they caused the violence, they can also stop it
      • My abuser used that emotional and psychologically controlling hold on me to his advantage by making me believe that I made him angry enough to abuse, that I caused his rage, that if I would only stop pissing him off, then the abuse would stop…but it never worked out that way – there was always another excuse that he found to make me feel like I was hopeless in avoiding to piss him off.
    7. Victims are made to believe they cannot survive on their own
    8. Survivors sometimes want the abuse to end, not the relationship
      • This is an important one.  You must acknowledge that typically, abuse does not begin on day 1 of a relationship.  In my case, the abuse did not begin until three months in.  If you think about it, three months is enough time to really share yourself with someone else.  Within three months, you’ve exchanged emotions, feelings, love, and happiness together.  As a human being, we tend to hold onto the once romance and love because at one time, it was our happy place, and we thought greatly of that person.
    9. A survivor may return to the abuser because that is the person they fell in love with, and they believe the promises to change; it’s not easy to let go of hopes and dreams
  3. Do abusers show any potential warning signs?
    1. There is no sure way to spot an abuser in a crowd, but most abusers share some common characteristics:
      1. They insist on moving too quickly into a relationship
      2. They can be very charming and may seem too good to be true
        • For the first three months of my relationship, he was extremely charming, romantic, and sweet.  He treated me like a queen, like he might just bow down to me one day
      3. They insist that you stop participating in leisure activities or spending time with family and friends
        • I quit dance while I was with him because he insisted that I was a horrible person because dance meant more to me than he did.  He claimed it was because he loved me so much he just wanted to spend as much time with me as possible; I see now that he was threatened by my love for dance and the possibilities it may bring me…or maybe the fact that there were also males there that I might just leave him for
        • He insisted I spend all of my free time with him – no friends, no family time, nothing without him.  He preferred I be with him alone, but often told me he would have to accompany me if I were to spend time with friends or family.  You can imagine how much my friends, in high school, loved this idea.
        • I distanced myself from my family because I believed that would please him; that must have been confusing and scary for my family.  They had no idea why I would distance myself like that…and once the physical abuse started, I began to distance myself from my family even more, mostly to protect them as he would often threaten their lives if I made any notion to leaving or revealing his secret, but also because it was embarrassing for me to think that I was a victim of domestic abuse.  In my mind, I was “letting” him abuse me because I stopped fighting back after learning it only made him hit/kick/strangle harder.  Obviously, I know now that I was NOT “letting” him do that to me, I got into a relationship with a persuasive person, who worked his way into my mind, and I was surviving any way I could.
      4. They are extremely jealous or controlling
        • Every relationship has some amount of healthy jealousy, it’s natural as human beings, but when it is extreme, and pairs with a controlling nature, that is a HUGE red flag – get out immediately!
      5. They do not take responsibility for their actions and blame others for everything that goes wrong
        • This is very true – the abuse was always either “my” fault or someone else’s for pissing him off or disrespecting him.  To this day, he has never admitted what he used to do to me behind closed doors; he denies and his mother calls him an “angel.”  Fuck off with that bull shit – that’s a coverup because she knows just as well as he does, that he is a shitty person and a bad egg, and she has contributed to that shitty person by not raising him to know better.  MAYBE if he were able to grow up, and as an adult, be able to acknowledge what he did and that it was wrong, and that he is truly, to the core of his being, sorry for doing that to someone, I may think differently of him, but because he cannot take responsibility, he is still a shitty, shitty person in my eyes.
      6. They criticize their partner’s appearance and make frequent put-downs
        • This was so very true for me.  I’ve never been an exceptionally vulnerable or insecure person, but somehow, with his controlling and persuasive ways, he convinced me that I was ugly, and my A-cup breasts were ugly and nobody would want that, that I was worthless and unlovable.  When someone makes you believe these horrible things, it’s dangerous.
        • Know that you are worth more than that, you aren’t what they say and if someone begins to intentionally try to make you feel like crap, get out immediately!  You’re worth so much more than that, so much more than the opinion of a shitty person.
      7. Their words and actions don’t match
        • This vicious cycle.
        • My abuser always claimed he was sorry, that he only did it because he loved me, it wouldn’t happen again, but not one of those claims were backed by action.  He was not sorry, not truly sorry, that’s NOT how you show love, it always happened again.
        • Growing up, we are taught that showing love does not always mean just saying the words, “i love you,” showing love means truly caring for people and making them FEEL that love.  Abusing someone is NOT how to show love.
        • **Now, just because someone may have one or even a few of these characteristics, doesn’t mean they’re automatically an abuser; what’s meant is if any of these characteristics are in an extreme nature, that is a red flag of an abuser.  Go with your gut to get out before there is any chance of abuse.
  4. Are men victims of domestic violence?
    1. YES, men are sometimes victims of domestic abuse/violence
    2. 85% of victims are female, while the other 15% of victims include intimate partner violence in gay and lesbian relationships and men who were battered by a female partner.
    3. While women are 90-95% more likely to suffer domestic violence, men can still be victims of domestic violence.
  5. What can I do to help?
    1. Say something.  The problem will continue if nobody talks about it.
      • In the years after I got out of the abusive relationship, I’ve ran into other residents of the apartment building that most of the abuse took place, and they’ve actually told me that they heard me screaming, but never did or said anything.  WHY NOT?!  I was screaming for my life, for someone to help, for anything…but they chose to let me suffer and possibly die.  Please don’t do what they did, you can always call 911 for someone, you can always say something, anonymously.
    2. If you’re an outsider with suspicions of abuse in someone else’s relationship, keep track of the signs, WRITE THEM DOWN (without any physical proof, sometimes police/court systems cannot do anything), say something to an official, ask that person if they need help.
      • When I brought my abuser to court, I didn’t know that I should have been keeping track and documenting everything on physical paper, so the court systems never believed me; they thought I was like those other [immature] girls who came in to get a restraining order on an ex-boyfriend just because I didn’t want to go out with him anymore, or maybe they just had the thought in their heads that teen dating violence/domestic violence didn’t happen around here, but regardless of their thoughts/views, they were supposed to be there to help me and they didn’t because I never had any physical proof.  Ultimately, I fought it in court for a year, and he was never arrested, or charged with anything related to my case.  He was free to do it again to someone else.  That’s so sad…and scary.
    3. You can donate to local, statewide, or national anti-domestic violence programs or victim assistance programs
    4. Educate your children about what healthy relationships look like, and what RESPECT is, and how we should be treated, fairly.  Lead by example.
    5. Talk about it with your children so they know what to look for, how to avoid it, and heaven forbid, know how to escape abuse should they find themselves in an abusive relationship.
  6. What resources are available to victims?
    1. Survivors can obtain a protection order, stay in a shelter, join a support group, and/or anonymously call a local domestic violence shelter or hotline program.
    2. Thousands of local shelters across the United States provide safety, counseling, legal help, and other resources for victims and their children.
    3. NNEDV’s website has safety tips and resources:  www.nnedv.org
    4. Here are some other helpful websites:
      www.thehotline.org
      www.ncadv.org
      www.endabusewi.org
      www.womensaidni.org
      www.womenslaw.org
    5. United States National Domestic Violence Hotline:  1-800-799-7233
    6. United States National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline:  1-866-331-9474

Please remain educated and continue the conversations about domestic violence and teen dating violence, it’s the only way we can end it.

If you prefer a video about this content, you can watch my YouTube video about it:

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