It happens to so many of us. It doesn’t discriminate based on age, race, religion, or even financial status. Odds are it’s happening right now to a woman in your neighborhood or a mom at your child’s school. I’m talking about domestic violence.
Have a seat, friend, because the numbers may shock you: 1 in 4 women have experienced severe intimate partner physical violence. 1 in 7 women have been physically injured by an intimate partner.
1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner.*
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Divorce in Good Company is committed to help raise awareness in our community about this serious issue.
There are many types of violence/abuse – physical, emotional, sexual, financial. Part 1 of our series focuses on physical and sexual abuse, and in part 2 we’ll be talking about emotional and financial abuse. Please read on to help yourself or another lady in need of your support.
As a divorce lawyer, I’ve counseled many women who have been physically abused by their spouses. They’re women like you and me; women who never thought they’d be in that situation. Usually they’ve kept what’s happened to them a secret. They post pics on Instagram showing a happy family. Almost none called the police and very few told a family member or friend. When I ask why, they tell me they were too embarrassed, or didn’t want to get their spouse in trouble.
Here are some of the things that have happened to the women I know – they were pushed, kicked, pinned down on the bed, pulled by their hair, had things thrown at them, were blocked into a closet or bathroom and not allowed to leave, had their partner put his hands around their neck. They’ve been forced to have sex with their husbands or to have the kind of sex they didn’t want.
All of these things are domestic violence. None of them are OK.
What we want you to know: If you are experiencing any kind of abuse, this is not your fault. You did not cause this, and you cannot fix it, no matter how sorry he says he is, or how much you may still love him. It’s time to love yourself MORE. It is not your job to protect your abuser. It’s your job to protect yourself and your children.
What we want you to do: Tell someone. It doesn’t matter if it’s happened 1 time or 100 times - it is never ok. Call your parents. Confide in a friend. See a counselor. Or if you’re not comfortable talking to someone you know, go the anonymous route.
Two of the top resources available for victims of domestic violence are:
Also, WomensLaw.org has state-by-state “plain language” (written so you can understand it) legal information for victims of abuse. It’s a great place to start if you want to know your rights but can’t get to a lawyer.
If you’re worried you’ll be judged or “bother” someone by calling, you won’t. On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines in the U.S. alone receive over 20,000 calls.* Help is on the other end of the phone – it’s up to you to take the first step to seek it. You are not alone!!
Create a Safety Plan
Whether you choose to stay or leave, having a safety plan is critical to your health and security. A safety plan is a plan created just for you that includes practical ways for you and your kids to stay safe - while you’re in the relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. The Hotline and the Coalition have great suggestions on how to create your own safety plan. I’ll add one to the list – if you’re worried about your imminent safety (meaning right now), the first call you should make is not to your lawyer, or your best friend, or your dad. They can’t help you in that moment. It’s to 911.
We want you to be safe, lady friend. And to know you aren’t alone.
You don’t have to tolerate abuse. And you certainly don’t have to get through this time on your own. No matter how hard or scary it is, the first step is to recognize what’s going on. And then make the decision to seek help. Start by telling one person.
Remember, there is an entire community of women experiencing what you’re experiencing. Every day. We say that not to condone this unacceptable behavior, but to remind you that, even in this, you’re in good company.