One in Four

A purple ribbon to promote awareness of Interp...

A purple ribbon to promote awareness of Interpersonal Violence and Abuse Prevention. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In honor of National Domestic Violence Month,

One in Four

Trigger Warnings: Domestic Violence

     Statistics state that one in four women will be subjected to Domestic Violence in her lifetime.  I often vacillate-am I the 25%?  Or am I over-exaggerating my experiences?

I never labeled my experience as Domestic Violence.  Not at the time.  Was it toxic?  Absolutely.  Do I have culpability in the death of our relationship?  Yes.  Was it acceptable that I felt scared of my boyfriend?  No.

Domestic violence is behavior that harms the other person in the relationship.  It can be verbal, emotional, sexual, or financial.  It includes the use of threats, gestures, glares to maintain a constant atmosphere of fear.  Behaviors that engender fear include

  • Shouting (Check)
  • Hitting Walls (Do doors count?)
  • Displaying Weapons, stalking, (no, no)
  • Prolonged silence-(I’m not sure on this one.   He would get scarily silent, but most stories talk about enduring the silent treatment for days, and I never received that.  Then again, most studies in domestic violence aren’t focused on university students, and assume that you live with your intimate partner. With him, the silence came between bouts of rage, so it was terrifying, but maybe it only felt prolonged.
  • Destruction of objects, injuries to children or pets. –(The wine bottle survived its trajectory across the room.)

Regardless of whether it met the definition of abuse, would I ever have reported his behavior?  No.

I’d like to think that he had, had he hit me, I would have left.  But I don’t know, and that’s what haunts me.  I think of myself as strong, but I allowed myself to be treated with such disrespect.  In hindsight, I almost wish that he had hit me.  It would have made forgetting and breaking up easier.  It’s hard to justify a breakup when you truly loved the person and the behavior felt vaguely justifiable.  Even if he had hit me, however, I would have never reported him-it was too trivial to matter to file a police report.

And I am not alone.  43% of women surveyed about their experience with domestic violence never reported it because it was “too trivial.”  Thirty eight percent said that it was a family issue that ought to be resolved internally.  7% sought to avoid humiliation, and 13% did not report for fear of triggering more violence.

And it’s hard to admit that that is you, that shriveling, shaking sad girl who accepts the endless barrage of insults thrown at her without offering a single word in her own defense.  The activist rendered mute.  That’s you and nobody wants to see that in a mirror.

__________________________________________________________________

To this day, I’m not sure that my experience counts as domestic violence, but I have no doubts that it has affected my life.  Anyone with advice or similar experiences, feel free to share in the comments.

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