As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to an end, I want to acknowledge all victims and survivors of DV. You matter, you’re important and together we will rise.
Today is the last day of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month but every day of every month of every year is an opportunity to help someone get free from domestic violence. We need to learn to read between the lines. It takes a victim of domestic violence longer than a month to leave, to heal, to feel worthy, valued and loved. I challenge you the next time you are at the mall, your children’s school, a sporting event or even at your church service to look around the room and remember the staggering statistics of Domestic Violence. You will never see Domestic Violence in the same light again.
1 in 3 women have been victims of (some form of) physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
1 in 4 women have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
1 in 5 women in the United States has been raped in their lifetime. Almost half of female (46.7%) victims of rape in the United States were raped by an acquaintance. Of these, 45.4% of female rape victims were raped by an intimate partner.
1 in 7 women have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States
On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide
1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence
A month of awareness is just a pebble in the sand compared to the vast amount of pebbles that lie on the ocean floor.
Speak Out Today!
How many people do you engage with on a daily basis? How many of those people are smiling outward, but on the inside it is a different story? Maybe there are dealing with pain, anger, abuse, abandonment, suicide, depression, anxiety, sadness, hate, resentment or loss of hope. All the emotional turmoil neatly tucked away to a deep hidden sacred place. Where they will do anything to protect their facade with a smile while their heart and soul are so broken.
We all have been there one time or another in our life. I spent many years hiding behind a smile. When someone would approach me and ask how my day ways my famous words were, “I’m fine” followed by a smile. I would cheerfully reply with such a heavy heart and my eyes still stinging from crying the night before. My response was in no way meant to be misleading or dishonest however it was a means of preservation, protection and control.
It is very common in our society today to associate crying and pain with weakness. That it’s not okay to ask for help. I was blessed to have amazing women in my life in the midst of my hell. Those friends took the time to read between the lines of, “I’m Ok.” For so many they don’t have the support or friends to read between their lines. We have to make it our mission to look for those that are hurting, who may feel they are not seen or heard. You can learn a lot about someone even a perfect stranger just by their demeanor and body language.
We have to learn to read between the lines. I didn’t realize until many years after I had left my ex-husband that my friends became better than any FBI agent. They had serious skills! Not only would they stalk my house in the late hours of the night but they picked up on the clothes I would wear and from the words I would say. The black dress resembled the pain I had endured the night or nights before. I couldn’t wear jeans or a form fitting blouse after a night of being beat because my skin would hurt as the clothing would brush against my skin. I resorted to wearing this black dress I had because it was flowy and it wouldn’t rub up against my skin. My friends would soon come to Hate that dress. Yet the never once judged me for going back day after day. For years they continued to read between the lines.
God has a plan for all of our lives. Maybe that plan consists of paying attention to those around you, to those that are close to you, to your co-workers or friends of your children. You never know what someone is going through until you take some time to read between the lines and be observant. When we care and love one another it becomes a natural instinct to want to protect. I am so grateful for the two very important women in my life that took that time and gave me a safe place to land.
Remember, it’s scary what a smile can hide. Look underneath the facade and be someone’s rainbow on their cloud.
“Be a Rainbow in someone else’s cloud, no matter who they are.” -Maya Angelou
“What about my scars, your scars. Is there treasure in them too? Most of us find scars quite ugly and embarrassing and we usually try to hide them. But a scar indicates that a wound has been healed. As we live this life, it is only a matter of time before we encounter deep heart wounds. And a healed heart wound – scar – is our testimony to the healing. This healing can only happen through Jesus.
Every scar I have is evidence of a fight or struggle that Jesus won for me. He is stronger than the people or things that ever tried to hurt me. My scars are my testimonies of the evidence that God’s hand was on me – touching and healing me.
My scars have treasure in them for others too; for those who need to know that they too can heal from wounds. And Jesus is the healer. Therefore, I will no longer hide my scars. I will gladly share my healed wounds to whomever is willing to listen. “I was blind and now I see” and have to tell what my God has done for me.
Ladies don’t be ashamed of your scars. If God has healed you from anything…tell it! Don’t hide it. Someone else needs to know what treasure waits within your scars.”
By Angel Cantrell
I used to be an expert on putting on the facade that everything in my life was great. I made sure that my outer appearance was always well put together from my hair and makeup down do my stylish heels. It was as though I piled on the layers to hide the real truth. I wore my “mask” to hide the bruises, the fear, the shame and the guilt. Once I completely stripped away the facade, I was left with just an empty shell until I allowed God to show me my beauty through His eyes.
I challenge you today to strip away your masks and let your true beauty of who you are be revealed and let it shine.
You are beautiful, You are worthy, You are loved and You deserve to be treated with love and respect!
Fact: One in three U.S. women has been or will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime.
FACT: A woman is beaten every 15 seconds in the United States. Countless more are emotionally abused, sexually coerced, and controlled financially.
A Deeper Look At Domestic Abuse: Why I stayed
Leaving is never the easy choice — it is just one more painful choice in a reality full of painful choices.
1. I was afraid of being shamed, judged, hated, or accused of lying.
You hear it all the time — an allegation of domestic abuse is waved away, with the reasoning, “I know him — he would never do that, she’s making it all up, he’s a nice guy.”
2. Abuse is generally cyclical, and most abusers follow a pattern that keeps victims feeling trapped.
It was as though he could sense when I was about to throw in the towel, and he’d suddenly be back to his old, loving self, making it very difficult for me to justify leaving him especially because I loved him and desperately wanted us to be able to function in a healthy relationship. He was giving me hope and I constantly thought to myself that maybe he’ll change, and everything will get better.
He would have a “moment of clarity” in which he would get down on his knees, sobbing, telling me he hated himself for what he’d done to me and begging me to forgive him.
3. I loved my husband.
Is it possible to love someone who abuses you? Absolutely. Furthermore, since abusive behavior is very rarely black and white, it makes things much more complicated than “should I stay or should I go.”
Despite everything he’d put me through, to see him collapse in tears like that to see him hurt so much nearly destroyed me. So even though I knew all too well the terrible things he’d done, in those moments, he seemed to me like a lost, broken boy and I would ache for him. I loved him so much that seeing his pain felt far worse than the pain he inflicted on me. And I couldn’t walk away not when he was hurting. Not when he needed me.
4. His emotional abuse and manipulation destroyed my self-esteem.
During my ten year marriage my ex-husband left some pretty inconceivable bruises on me, many times old bruises didn’t have time to heal before the next round would appear. He slowly began to eat away at my self-esteem and the mind games were the worst part. He would twist my thoughts and words until I felt like I was going crazy and would second guess the reality of the situation. I started telling myself that things weren’t that bad and they could be worse. Doubting the validity of your own thoughts and experiences is exhausting and terrifying, and it leaves you very, very vulnerable.
5. Fear of retaliation.
Simply running away from an abusive partner does not always mean the abuse will stop. In many cases, abusers will go so far as to stalk, rape, or even kill the women who tried to leave them. Sometimes it is literally not safe to leave. The realization of having to co-parent with the person who hurt you so badly is hard to imagine.
So the next time you find yourself tempted to say something judgmental about someone who has remained in an abusive situation for a period of time — please remember these words, from someone who has been there.