3 Every Day
With all the press on Ray Rice, the nation has been focused on domestic violence, and the overwhelming statistics. Stats such as 3 women every day die from domestic violence. And the violence is coming from an intimate partner – spouse, boyfriend, or even a girlfriend.
It’s estimated that 22% of women, and 14% of men, experience physical violence, with the most common being slammed against something, or being hit with a fist or hard object.
The saddest part about these statistics is the abused partner usually stays in the relationship. Although you can hardly call it a relationship. We wonder why. Why do they stay? Why don’t they get help? Why do they protect the person? Why? Why? Why?
Good questions only the victim can answer. But it’s usually because they feel they have no other options. They’ve been beaten down emotionally as well as physically. They wonder how they'll support themselves. And of course what if the abusing partner has apologized and shown remorse. Certainly they wouldn’t feel bad if they didn’t love me. Right?
Most believe the abused partner is weak, has no self-esteem, or doesn’t believe they deserve to be happy. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes they’re a strong person caught up in a bad situation. Maybe they either miss the warning signs, or just want to try and help the abuser to be a better person.
Or, perhaps that was just me.
I never share this story, but now feel compelled to share.
At 19 I stupidly married an older man who'd had a bad, abusive childhood. I wasn’t in love with him. I wanted to help him be happy. But at 19 I was woefully unprepared for what I stepped into. I’d married an alcoholic, with more demons than we had closets.
All the warning signs were there, but I believed I could help him, until it was almost too late. The excessive drinking, verbal abuse, threats, and pushing that escalated to slapping.
I slowly came to the realization I couldn’t help him. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help himself, or herself. I realized I had to protect myself. First step, hiding the bullets to the rifle he kept in the closet – along with his demons.
Even with the warning signs and realization, I drug my feet on leaving. Finally one night I’d had enough. When he started to hit me I swung back. That proved to be a huge mistake. I got the worse beating of my life.
After that, I finally left. But to this day I’m reminded of that year every time I feel the chipped bones in my face, or panic when someone puts me in a friendly hold that terrifies me.
Back then, no one talked about domestic violence. It was something to hide and be ashamed of. But maybe today is different. Maybe with all the press, people like me sharing stories, and individuals paying attention, it saves a life, or two, or three.