“He always apologized, and sometimes he would even cry because of the bruises he’d made on her arms or her legs or her back. He would say that he hated what he’d done, but in the next breath tell her she’d deserved it. That if she’d been more careful, it wouldn’t have happened. That if she’d been paying attention or hadn’t been so stupid, he wouldn’t have lost his temper.” ― Nicholas Sparks, Safe Haven

According to the Department of Justice, “We define domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.  Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economical, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone.”  October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

These are the facts:  One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. The majority (73%) of family violence victims are female. Females were 85% of spousal abuse victims and 86% of abuse victims at the hands of a boyfriend. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. The worst and #1 FACT: Most domestic violence incidents are never reported.

Domestic violence affects people from all social, racial and financial backgrounds. It affects men and women, old and young, heterosexual and homosexual couples alike. Violence can start almost immediately, or only after several years of being together. Yes, victims and perpetrators come from all backgrounds, but the shock, pain, confusion, guilt and betrayal experienced as a result of being subject to domestic violence is common to all of its victims. You can find all these demographics – victims and victimizers right here in the NEK.

Many sufferers of domestic violence will not speak out about what is happening at home, but suffer in silence, some for years, and some until death. Many will even deny it, not wanting to admit to the reality of the abuse or perhaps haven’t even come to the actualization they are being abused. Many feel shame about the abuse, and truly believe it is their own fault. A feeling of guilt about the abuse is almost a given – the victim of abuse believing, and being told by the offender, that they or their actions are the cause of the abuse. This has a double effect.  It enables the abuser to continue to feel justified in continuing their destructive behavior, as the victim takes responsibility for the abuse, and it allows the victim to continue to believe that they can change the situation and can in some way control the abuse and stop it. Reality is a true change in a perpetrator of abuse is sadly very rare. The victim of abuse is never responsible for the abuse and violence. This means NEVER, not even if she is being rude or emotional, not even if they make a mistake or do something displeasing. There is no excuse or rationalization for abuse.

There isn’t a scale of abuse – all abuse is wrong. It is still abuse if the incidents of physical abuse seem minor when compared to those you have read about or seen on TV. There isn’t a “better” or “worse” form of abuse. It is still abuse if it only occurred one or two times in the relationship. Studies show that if your partner has injured you once, it is likely he will continue to physically assault you. It is still abuse if the physical assaults stopped when you became passive and gave up your right to express yourself as you desire, to move about freely and see others, and to make decisions. It is not a victory if you have to give up your rights as a person and a partner in exchange for not being assaulted! It is still abuse if there has not been any physical violence. Many women are emotionally and verbally assaulted. This can be equally as frightening and is often more confusing to try to understand.

There are too many people suffering in silence out of fear, guilt and pain. Victims live with high rates of depression, sleep issues, anxiety, flashbacks, and other emotional agonies due to abuse. Without help, girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse as teens and adults. Without help, boys who witness domestic violence are more likely to become abusers of their partners and/or children as adults, thus continuing the cycle of violence into the next generation. Do your part to stop this cycle of violence. You can help! Speak up; ask questions and report any suspicious activity. There is help available. Call your local police department, hospital, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

The fact is domestic violence can happen to anyone! The problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship are the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love and no one you love should make you feel afraid. Domestic violence from a person you love can be the most hurtful and confusing abuse. Do not suffer in silence, there is help and you do not deserve to live in danger. You deserve to be safe and secure; you are more than your hidden hurts.


Mary Hoadley

Manager of The Wellness Center