We’re sitting around a large oval table at our 5 Points Blue meeting the other day discussing Staci’s Ray Rice article and the importance of keeping the focus on domestic violence, not Roger Goodell. I mention that I’m attending a league mandated domestic violence training session and suddenly all eyes are on me. “You should write an article on the session” they say. Me?! I’m not a victim, nor do I know anyone that is. I was wrong.
During the session, domestic violence warning signs are displayed via bullet points on the screen and that’s when, as if I transported back in time, the memories came flooding back.
It’s dark outside; I’m ducking down in the driver’s seat of my then boyfriend’s car hoping to go unseen. He’s furious, he’d always been the overly jealous type, but had never physically harmed me. He sees me and as he realizes the doors are locked he shatters the passenger window behind me and crawls in. As glass flies I embrace the steering wheel similar to a child grasping a teddy bear in fear or a friend grabbing another’s hand tightly when anticipating pain.
He lands a number of punches to my back that I tally up the following morning by counting the bruises left behind. I’m staring in the mirror in shock.
My back is a living canvas showing his depiction of domestic violence. His fists, the brushes he used leaving behind strokes of varying shades of blue.
I’m not a victim, but a survivor.
While I’m proud to say that, had I recognized the warnings such as those listed below as abuse and not love I could have potentially avoided it completely.
- Extreme jealousy
- Constant belittling or put-downs
- Isolation from family and friends
- Making false accusations
Take a look at your Facebook page, how many friends does it say you have? What about the number of likes or comments on the last status or pic you posted?
One in four women have or will experience some form of domestic violence. Now take another look at your social media numbers. We’re all around you. IT’S all around you. Domestic violence doesn’t care where I buy shoes or if the bottoms of those shoes are red. It doesn’t care if you grew up in a loving family or what race box you check when filling out a form.
It’s blind, it’s deaf, it does not recognize race and its worst enemy is YOU.
Six years ago I’m in Vegas on one of those bridges for pedestrians that connect you from one hotel to another when I first see her. I’m 5’2” and she’s not much taller than me nor is the guy she’s talking to. Suddenly, he grabs a hand full her of dark curly hair and pulls her face towards the point of his finger. I’m now about five feet away and the fear in her body language reminds of a cowering puppy being scolded.
I can’t believe this is happening right in front of not only me, but hundreds of others and in broad daylight! My blood starts to boil as if a fire is ignited within me. “Don’t!” my friend says grabbing my arm before I even realize I’m literally reaching for the back of this guy’s jacket. “You’ll only make it worse for her” she says. As we walk past them I envision burning a hole straight through the man with my stare. Unfortunately, that’s not enough and nor will it ever be.
“What should I have done?” I ask Deana after the training session wrapped. Feeling a lump in my throat and moisture swelling in my eyes. I tell her I catch myself thinking back to that woman on the bridge often. I wonder about her whereabouts, her well-being and whether or not I could have saved her. My only hope is that someone did, someone that had the knowledge that I lacked. I failed not only myself, but more importantly I failed her.
My hope is that my story eliminates the initial shock you may experience the day you come face to face with domestic violence. It’s time we stand up and arm ourselves with knowledge that could not only save our own lives, but also others. Take it from me, you do not want your own version of the woman on a bridge for she could very well be your aunt, your friend, your coworker or even worse, you.
To help or get help:
National Domestice Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE
Handbooks for women, men, teens and parents:
Go to www.loveisnotabuse.com
“I remember the first coworker who asked me if my fat lip was caused by my ex-husband. He may have felt that it didn’t do any good, or that he was wrong to ask. But by asking that question, he planted a seed in my mind that what was happening to me wasn’t right” – A Survivor