October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time when many work to build awareness for the issue, the challenges and ways to get and give help to those who are victims of this abuse.
When I think back to how I moved past that chapter of my life, I immediately feel a swell of love for my family, especially my brother. He dropped everything on a random work day and drove a small U-Haul over, helped me load my clothes, a chair and my cat and moved me into his home the same day I called. And, I lived there for over a year while I went through the cycles of growth that follow a tough breakup.
And, then I count my blessings.
The idea that anyone I know and love —or anyone I don’t know — would have to stay in a relationship like my old one haunts me. And, the statistics show that many do for many reasons. So, I’m sharing facts from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) in the videos you see here and through social media this month.
The Duluth Model is a research-based approach that frames domestic violence as a cycle of power and control, as shown below. It shows the various ways an abuser will intimidate and harm his or her victim. And, it helps to demonstrate that an abusive relationship is toxic in so many ways — including that it doesn’t end until the victim leaves.
I don’t pretend to be an expert, and I don’t have all the answers.
What I can tell you is that anyone who truly loves you will not harm you — mentally, emotionally or physically. Abuse can happen for countless reasons: the abuser is cruel, mentally ill, out of control or any combination of the three. The fact is, it doesn’t matter why the abuser harms his or her victim. It’s not safe or healthy for the person on the receiving end of it.
No matter how much you love someone else, there is an alarm inside all of us that tells us, “This is not right,” when you’re in a bad or dangerous situation. So, stay in tune with that. Don’t explain it away. Don’t ignore it. And, don’t believe anyone who tells you or treats you like you are worthless. You’re not.
And, if you know someone who is or may be in an abusive relationship, know that your support means more than you may realize. If they don’t see a way out, help them see their options. Guard their privacy, especially from their abuser. And, show and tell them how much you care. It matters. It matters a lot.