October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I thought it was fitting to share this true story with you. The name of the woman has been changed to protect her privacy. This story is used by permission.
Susan was a mom of three young boys, and married to her college sweetheart. From all appearances they had a storybook life. They were active in their church, even serving as youth leaders for many years. But Susan had a secret. Her husband was physically abusive.
The abuse started even before they were married. Her husband to be would "throw fits" when they got into an argument, often grabbing Susan and shaking her violently or pulling her hair. Susan thought that he was stressed out because of their engagement and that things would change after they got married. But the violence continued. When she was six months pregnant with their first child, he got so mad that he punched her in the stomach. She told him then that if he did it again she would leave.
Unfortunately she didn't leave, and the violence continued. She didn't want to tell her friends and family what was going on because she was embarrassed, and was afraid that people would blame her and tell her she deserved it. She had two more kids with him thinking that maybe having kids would make him stop. It didn't. In the meantime, they continued putting up the front.
By 10 years into their marriage they had 3 sons. The violence got so bad that she fell into a deep depression, and contemplated suicide. She finally confided in a close friend and she developed a secret code word and told her friend that if she ever called her on the phone and used the code, that her friend was to call the police immediately.
Then one day the incident occurred that changed Susan's life forever. It was a hot summer day and she had asked her husband to help with the kids so she could go to the store. He didn't want to and started to throw a fit. He grabbed Susan and threw her across the room, ripping her shirt off of her. Her kids watched in horror and began screaming "You're hurting mommy!" at that Susan's husband grabbed their 5 year old son and shoved him against the wall. To Susan it was like watching a horror movie. It was one thing to hurt her, but once he started hurting her children she decided to do something. She kicked him out the next day.
Fortunately, Susan's situation had a happy ending and she got away from the abuse. Too many women do not. Here are some sobering statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
- Domestic violence is most common among women between the ages of 18-24.
- Nearly 20.9% of female high school students and 13.4% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
- 50% of youth reporting dating violence and rape also reported attempting suicide. This is compared to 12.5% of non-abused girls and 5.4% of non-abused boys.
- 57% of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually, or verbally abusive in a dating relationship.
At Doorways, domestic violence is something that we always enquire about and help clients get the resources they need to resist and walk away from violence and move on to health and freedom in their personal lives and relationships.
Please let us know if we can help in any way should you or someone you love struggle with domestic violence in any form.
In the meantime, here are some resources to help people who may be in a domestic violence situation.