October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. A Candlelight Vigil was held in my hometown on October 11, near beautiful Logan Martin Lake, at the serene Chapel in the Pines. Another Candlelight Vigil was held at Birmingham’s historic Linn Park on October 18. Both Candlelight Vigils not only heightened awareness, but honored those who have lost their lives through Domestic Violence. YWCA of Central Alabama sponsored both of these emotional events. It is difficult to believe that in 2015- 32 victims were killed, 267 were raped and 3500 were assaulted by someone who had said, ‘I love you’, right here in Alabama. Those are just the ones that were reported, many more assaults have surely gone unreported. The toll this type of violence takes on homes, children and communities is enormous. I am very honored to serve on a steering committee which serves women and children right here in my hometown.
The Warning Signs which can lead to Domestic Violence are important to recognize so that lives may be spared.
- Verbal and Emotional Abuse– Public and private language intended to demean, humiliate, embarrass and damage the self esteem of the victim. Name calling, shameful nicknames, mind games, coarse references about the image of the victim. Displays or gestures of disgust which result in a loss of confidence. Abusers are overly sensitive to criticism and may react with verbal attacks An abuser may challenge the mental state of the victim, often with accusations of mental illness.
- Intimidation– Actions by the abuser instill Fear. Loud coarse language, controlling with the eyes or hand gestures, abusing household pets or animals, breaking the victim’s possessions, reckless behavior, uncontrollable rage and even open display of weapons near the victim. Abusers know how to hurt a victim privately, bruising where it doesn’t show.
- Isolation– The abuser seeks to control who his victim talks to, screens television and reading materials. An abuser finds ways to restrict his victim’s movements, often insisting on being with her. Controls where the victim goes, may even restrict the use of vehicles and any forms of communication such as cell phones or social media. The abuser insists on exclusiveness with the victim, restricting friendships and relationships with family. An abuser controls his victim – always using jealousy to justify any abusive activity.
- Economic Abuse– The victim is prevented from any form of economic independence such as getting a job, he makes the victim ask for money- closely controls family funds so the victim believes escape is impossible. Among other obvious problems, economic abuse undermines confidence and creates hopelessness. An abuser also may withhold gifts or lavish gifts to justify his actions.
- Extreme Jealousy– constantly asking where the victim has been, checking cellphones and social media- actively checking for any sign of cheating, being suspicious if the victim has informed others of the abuse.
- Blaming Others – commonly saying ‘It’s your fault’, ‘You shouldn’t have provoked me’, ‘You made me hit you, do this’ etc.
- Using Manipulation or Threats– Using position or power to intimidate the victim, controls the victim by repeatedly threatening to leave, telling her that she is an unfit mother or saying that no one will ever believe her. The abuser threatens to commit suicide and worse threatens to kill the victim or the children.
This is just a sampling of the warning signs that can escalate violence in the homes. This is a dark subject- one I wish we would never have to discuss, however the number of lives lost so far in 2016, more than double that of 2015. ‘YWCA is On a Mission to Save Lives’. I am proud to be a small part of this mission. I would encourage you to visit the YWCA Central Alabama website for more information.
I would also direct you to a wonderful blog- by a beautiful young mother and so much more- Amanda@overcomeabuse , who bravely shares her struggle with abuse and is one of my blogging heroes! Amanda keep inspiring us all!
Please, if you recognize any of the warning signs– make sure you know the location and number of a Certified Shelter or Crisis Hotline in your area. Just these two things can help save your life or the lives of others. Keep these numbers handy in case you run across someone you feel may need these services.
I am indebted to Communications Director, YWCA Central Alabama, Scottie Vickery for the wonderful photographs of our local event, for the information gleaned from the YWCA e-newsletter this month, and to so many others who are working tirelessly everyday to make this world a safer place to live and re-build lives. Remember, a House is not a Home unless everyone in it feels safe. Let us never get weary of doing all we can to help.
Love y’all, Camellia