Myth 1: Domestic violence does not affect many people.
Fact: It is the single most common source of injury to survivors, more common than automobile accidents, muggings, and rape by a stranger combined.
Myth 2: His violence is temporary. Battering is only a momentary loss of temper.
Fact: Battering is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through acts of violence and other forms of abuse. The batterer uses a series of behaviors, including physical force, verbal threats and psychological abuse to coerce and control the other person.
Myth 3: Domestic violence only occurs in poor, urban areas.
Fact: No state, no city, no community and no neighborhood is immune from domestic violence. Perpetrators and victims come from all races, religions, cultures, age groups and socioeconomic levels.
Myth 4: Domestic violence is just a push, slap or punch – it does not produce serious injuries.
Fact: Domestic violence can lead to fatalities. A large portion of rapes, physical assaults and ongoing abuse cases committed against women by intimate partners result in injury and the need for medical care.
Myth 5: If an abusive relationship gets bad enough, the victim will leave.
Fact: Many survivors do not want the relationship to end; they want the violence to end. Factors like financial, religious, cultural and family pressures and/or fear of court or police involvement may keep a survivor in the relationship. The survivor may have tried to leave and the abuser threatened to harm the survivor more if they leave.
Myth 6: Maybe if they just got help for substance abuse, the abuse will stop.
Fact: Problems with alcohol and drug use may intensify violent behavior, but it does not cause it. Batterers are abusive with or without these substances. Abusers want all the power and control in the relationship and that is their motivation. Taking away the alcohol, does not stop the abuse.
Myth 7: If a survivor wants your help, they will ask for it.
Fact: A survivor may be too embarrassed or humiliated to ask for help. Survivors in violent homes are often isolated from friends and family by their abusers. The abuser wants total control and does not want the survivor talking to others. It is important to continue to reach out to the survivor and let them know you care.
Myth 8: With loyalty and love, you can make the abuser change. There will be more good times.
Fact: You may think you can get them to change their behavior if you are the “perfect” partner. Qualified intervention programs may provide the knowledge and skills to stop violent behavior, but only the abuser can decide whether they will use this newfound understanding to fix their patterns of abuse.
Myth 9: The violence will likely happen less and become decreasingly severe over time.
Fact: Studies show that over time, without intervention, violence in the relationship is likely to get worse – more frequent and more dangerous.
Myth 10: If you are struggling with a relationship, you will benefit from couples counseling.
Fact: Joint counseling does NOT work in violent relationships! Often, it can even be dangerous. If the survivor speaks candidly to the counselor, they may suffer more abuse when they get home. Domestic violence is the sole responsibility of the abuser. The abuser needs to work on the issue in a specialized program for abusers.
- Nearly one in three adult women experiences at least one physical assault by a partner during adulthood.
- Two thirds of women physically assaulted by an intimate partner said they were victimized multiple times by the same partner in a 12-month period.
- Each year an estimated 3.3 million children are exposed to violence against their mothers or female caretakers by family members.
- The average battered woman leaves 7 to 8 times before permanently leaving a relationship.
- Alcohol abuse is present in about 50 percent of abusive relationships. Research shows that alcohol and other drug abuse is commonly a symptom of an abusive personality, not the cause.
- Most domestic violence is not reported. Only one-fourth of all physical assaults against women by intimate partners were reported to police, according to a national survey.
- The percent of female murder victims killed by their intimate partners has remained at about 30 percent since 1976.
- One in five women victimized by their spouses or ex-spouses report they had been victimized over and over again by the same person.
- Seventy-five percent of women are seriously injured when they leave or try to leave an abusive relationship.
Real survivors of physical and mental abuse have found that writing down their feelings is a powerful way to process complex emotions and express themselves during a difficult time. These “Poems of Hope” are inspirational and offer a deeper insight into the lives and minds of the victims of domestic violence.
There’s a place for battered women,
For this I should know
A place of peace and tranquility,
A good place for the soul.
I stepped in the place with fear and fright,
Then a smiling face said, “Everything’s all right”
The days and nights are calm and serene,
Much different from the home where there were fights and screams.
I thank God for the people who help me each day
It’s for them, my life is like a bouquet.
-Written by a client at Daybreak
My Silent Plea
All alone and frightened on the inside,
I say everything’s fine, but have plenty to hide
Battered and bruised, but can’t tell a soul,
I want out so bad, but he’s got control.
Using threats and manipulation to keep me there,
Brainwashing me to think no one would care.
Robbed of my pride and feeling only shame,
He says it’s my fault, so I shoulder the blame.
I’m so isolated from my family and friends.
If I ask for their help, he’ll bring harm to them.
My heart is breaking, I need help so bad,
Yet I remain silent, lonely and sad.
No one understands the situation anyway,
Fear for my life is why I stay.
You’ll never understand ’til you walk in my shoes,
So please don’t condemn and say, “How can you…?”
I feel disgraced by your knowing looks,
We’re women you know, your neighbors, or mothers
I want respect and love, just like you,
I’m tired of all the threats and abuse.
I feel so helpless, with no where to turn,
For protection and safety, I constantly yearn.
I want to live a life of my own,
Desperately wanting my plight to be known.
I hide the bruises behind make-up and smiles,
Hoping you’ll notice, all the while.
Look past the smile, to my lifeless eyes,
Please notice the silence and the reason I’m shy.
Look at the way I limp when I walk,
Realize I won’t look at you when I talk,
My movements may be awkward and slow,
I say I fell, but it’s from last night’s blows.
For every injury, I’ll give an excuse,
But please don’t turn away and say it’s no use.
Notice he won’t let me out of his sight,
Giving me no chance to reveal my plight.
Don’t confuse his “doting” for love and affection.
Please see it as control, and give me protection.
I’m crying out the only way I know how,
Please reach out to me and help me now.
I long for your trust and the words, “It’s okay”
Please reach out to me and show me a way.
To put an end to the fear and pain,
To get back my pride and self-worth again.
I’m desperately needing compassion and help,
I feel there’s no one to rely on, only myself.
My frightened cries are longing to be heard,
Please look at the signs, my unspoken words.
Just open your eyes, all the signs are there,
And see my silent plea for someone to care.
For if you ignore my problem and wait,
“One Day” for me, may be just “one Day” too late.
-Written by a client at Penelope House, a “Survivor because someone cared.”
Living with Mr. Attitude
You wake up happy for a moment or two,
Until he wakes up and snaps at you!
You drive up to say, “love and miss you,”
He turns your feelings quickly into, “The heck with you!”
Everything’s wrong, whether it’s this or that!
Or what you’re near, or where you’re at!
It doesn’t matter what you say or do,
There’s no pleasing “You know who!”
– Written by a client at Second Chance Shelter in Anniston
I am a mother, a former military captain, a business owner and a motivational speaker. I am also a survivor of domestic violence.
After meeting my exhusband in college, we began dating and quickly got serious. To the outside world, he seemed like a charming Southern gentleman, and we appeared to be the perfect couple. But behind closed doors, I was involved with a dramatic and controlling individual.
Our fights typically stemmed from seemingly silly things, so I felt ashamed and was afraid I’d sound stupid if I told anyone about our conflicts. As a result, my friends were never privy to the situation. I spent years continually falling victim to his mind games, being blamed for not knowing how to calm him down when he was angry and getting accused of not understanding how relationships worked. I was alone with my thoughts and began to believe everything was my fault.
We got married right out of college, and I felt it was too soon. His eagerness seemed romantic, but I thought we should give it more time. And I still thought that the day I walked down the aisle but believed it was too late to change my mind.
The physical abuse started during our honeymoon – punching holes in the walls, backing me into corners and even choking me at one point. I immediately reached out to the pastor who married us for help. But as a clergy member, he was trained to counsel me away from divorce and to stay in the relationship. After this, I started to minimize what I was going through and remained in the marriage for four long years.
The worst incident I remember involved pushing me out of the apartment, throwing my suitcase at me and bodyslamming me onto the pavement. This was the point it became clear that I was experiencing domestic violence and divorce was a must.
But as anyone who’s been through the cycle of abuse knows, the process of leaving can be lengthy. It was no different for me. Even though this incident was pivotal, I stayed in the relationship for another three years. After having our first child, I remember looking at our baby and thinking that I didn’t want him to have to grow up this way. That was how I started the process of leaving.
I reached out to my military counselor and was connected with my local domestic violence shelter. The smartest thing I did was to stop solely relying on advice from family and friends and start working with a professional domestic violence counselor to build a safety plan. I was never forced by the counselor to do anything, just given the information and the confidence I needed to walk away when I was ready. Having a plan rather than just storming out after a big argument helped alleviate some of the fear in my mind, lessened my vulnerability and eventually allowed me to leave peacefully with the resources I needed.
I went to weekly group counseling sessions at the domestic violence shelter for several months, where I learned how to create boundaries and ultimately how I could coparent without having to take part in his drama.
Faith got me through it and time helped me heal. I didn’t speak out at first, but I quickly learned that I could provide inspiration to others in similar situations by sharing my personal story.
It is my hope that victims of domestic violence in Alabama seek professional help from our coalition. The resources available strengthened me to become the survivor I am today. With the support of certified shelters and organizations like ACADV, you and your children can also find a life free from violence.
Dear Alabama Employer:
Domestic violence touches all of us. One in four women, one in seven men, and over 3 million children have been affected by domestic violence. Chances are, you have been face to face with a victim, and didn’t even know it. Domestic violence does not discriminate based on age, gender, or socioeconomic status. It preys on the weak and the strong, the suspecting and the non-suspecting. In every community, and in virtually all businesses, domestic violence strikes.The emotional, physical and financial toll of domestic violence is horrific. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report the health-related costs of domestic violence exceed $5.8 billion each year. Of that amount, nearly $4.1 billion are for direct medical and mental health care services, and nearly $1.8 billion are for the indirect costs of lost productivity or wages.
To continue to build awareness and educate our community, Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence will team with organizations to assist with a plan for employers to help design sound, effective policies that create a safe environment when domestic violence follows a victim to work.