Why is it that it takes a well-publicized domestic violence case such as Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, knocking his fiancée (now wife) out in an elevator, to shine the light on domestic abuse? As if that wasn’t enough, it was reported the next week that the NFL currently has other cases of domestic abuse, including Ray McDonald, a San Francisco Fourty Niner,  who abused his pregnant  fiancé,  Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers, assaulted his girlfriend, and Minnesota Vikings Adrian Peterson had been indicted by a Grand Jury for child abuse . Does this mean domestic abuse is running ramped in sports? Possibly, yet victims can be of any age, social, culture or financial background and happens to women, children and even men.

What is Domestic Abuse?

Although by definition, domestic abuse includes actions such as emotional, psychological, economic abuse, or isolation from family and friends, this article will only focus on physical abuse (not including sexual abuse, which is a whole other issue).

Every nine seconds a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime, most often by a family member or significant other.  Every day, in the US three women are killed by their husbands or boyfriends. Alarmingly, based on reports from ten major countries, fifty-five to ninety-five percent of women abused by their partners had never reported it to non-government agencies, shelters or the police! What’s more, these statistics don’t include domestic partner abuses, (male or female) or those related to children.

Breaking Old Beliefs

It has been a long held belief that the Cycle of Domestic Violence begins over a period of months or years, with periods of calm between abusive behaviors. However, recent studies show that the Cycle of domestic Violence does not have time frames and does not follow a pattern such as abuse followed up by apologies, promises it won’t happen again, followed by a calm period before the cycle starts again. There is no stereotypical pattern of type of abuse and abusers are not just relationship partners; they can be parents or even a person’s own children.

Causes for abuse depend on the partner, ranging from inadequacy, bad tempers, (often worsened by drugs and alcohol), and can be brought on by as little as a look they didn’t like.  The size of the abuser doesn’t matter, just the severity of their rage.  But no matter what the cause, there is a need for power and degradation of the partner.

Why Don’t The Abused Leave?

Why don’t women report it?  Why do they put up with it? Why do they stay with or go back with their abusers? A classic well publicized example was Rhianna and Chris Brown. Women stay for a variety of reasons; the husband or boyfriend has threatened to kill them or harm their children if they leave, many have Stockholm Syndrome, others don’t have anywhere to go or money to live on, their mate has convinced them it’s their fault, they don’t have skills necessary to support themselves, they are afraid the abuser will find them and it will be worse if they return under duress, or they just don’t know what to do.  National statistics say that of the women who eventually get out of abusive situations, they leave the abuser seven times before doing anything to officially break the ties! According to the U.S. Department of Justice and its National Crime Victim Survey, the most dangerous time for an abused woman is when she tries to leave or break off the relationship, so the escape must be well planned.

What You Can Do

What then to do? There are mixed opinions on getting a personal protection order, with some saying they work, while others having found the abuser doesn’t pay attention to them. The best bet is finding a shelter for victims of domestic or sexual violence. While the location of shelters is kept secret for the protection of the residents, the police, local hospitals, or the Domestic Violence Hotline can help. Shelters provide programs and services not limited to, but including; danger and lethality assessments, emergency shelter, 24/7 Crisis Hot Lines, legal advocacy, individual and group counseling, outreach counseling (non-residents), as well as relocation and crime victim assistance. If you are in a situation that scares you, there are sources on the internet for information on domestic violence and abuse. Each state has its own Domestic Violence Hotline number and you should know yours and keep it handy.  Being prepared could save your life.

Chances are that some of the women reading this article are victims of domestic abuse or know women who are.  Help break the cycle of violence. Don’t be a victim. Remember, you are not alone. It’s not your fault. Help is available. Have the courage to reach out and take it!

 

About The Author

Kenna Marriott is the author of Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda…Lessons, Learnings, and Insights From a Mother about her Daughter’s Battle with Cancer. She is a motivational speaker and cancer patient advocate.

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