The other night during the Super Bowl, I was reading City of Bones while taking a break to watch commercials. I was having a pretty relaxing night until one commercial blindsided me. As I watch the 49 secs of advertisement is was all I could do to hold back the tears. It portrayed a situation that I was all too familiar with. It brought back memories poorly buried deep within my soul.
Once upon a time, I was the girl too afraid to go to the party because of what would happen when I returned home. It has been 6 years since I last saw his face. It has been 6 years since he almost choked me to death. Yet, some days I can still hear his voice in my head. I still don’t talk about it. And still affects my everyday life.
The sad fact of the matter is that everyone knows someone who has been a victim of domestic violence. According to NCADV, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. The signs of abuse are not always obvious. The ad from No More shows a very subtle sign of an abusive relationship. The sad part is too many people brush these cries for help. Too many people see it as the victims fault.
I was in an abusive relationship for 3 years. I always played down my abuse and his behavior because I was embarrassed. I thought that I was not the kind of girl who would end up in an abusive relationship. I was smart. Being raised in a home where that behavior wasn’t tolerated. My brothers were often reminded that this was not how a relationship worked. Yet, there I was. Often in the middle of the night crying in the bathroom alone. Trying hard to not to sob too loudly because it would only wake him up and anger him.
I remember once hiding at my mother’s house when I was sick. I wasn’t allowed to have days off so I had to hide. I didn’t tell my mom why I was there. I kept her and my family in the dark. I didn’t tell my brothers because I was afraid of what they would do to him. I felt like this was my burden to bear. No one else. The times I had cried out for help to my friends, it had fallen on deaf ears. I had tried to leave him many times only to gave some convince me to giving it another try. I mean I downplayed the truth so much that no one believed me.
People answer to these kinds of situation is “If he beats her, Why doesn’t she just leave?” The sad fact is they mentally can’t. Just like my relationship with my ex, it didn’t start out that way. He slowly wore me down to the point where I was convinced no one else would want me. Even though I paid most of the bills, he had me convinced I couldn’t survive financially on my own. I was too proud to move back home. I was afraid to call the police when he become violent. He favorite thing to do is get in my face until I would push him away. Then he would go after me. He claimed that if I call the cops, he would just tell them it was self-defense.
There are a multitude of reasons why a women may not leave. According to Domestic Violence Intervention program, leaving a battering partner may be the most dangerous time in that relationship. Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship. And like myself and most women, we just want the violence to end not the relationship. When he wasn’t angry, I loved him. My heart and mind was confused on what to do. When things were good, I was genuinely happy. However, the happiness turned into fear because I was afraid of what would happen if I tried to leave.
Domestic violence is very real. Many woman are too ashamed to talk about it. They feel like they are alone. Staying in the relationship is better than being alone and seen as a failure. The best thing you can do is support the victim. Remind them that they are truly better than what they have. Offer a safe space. Most of all, believe them. Leaving has to be something she needs to decided. She needs to know that she is not crazy, that is not her fault, and that she can do this. Together we can say “No More”.