I’ve never heard of a guy walking up to a woman, introducing himself, asking her out on a date, and as an aside, mentioning that in the next few months he plans on beating her.
It doesn’t happen that way, does it?
Four out of five rape and sexual assaults are by someone known to the victim.
(source: US Department of Justice)
It’s not the stranger jumping out from behind the bushes in the dead of night that we have to be cautious of. It is the person that we know.
I taught a self defense class for 45 women last night. Domestic Violence and Abuse is one of the components of my course. It is very likely that some of the women in that class are in an abusive relationship, or know someone who is.
So how does it get from the “Hi, how are you?” stage to the pushing and shoving stage? From
“let’s go have a drink” to “how can you be so stupid?”
Small subtle steps. With red flags every step of the way. Red flags that many of us don’t recognize.
Seven out of ten victims of assault knew their assailant.
(For discussion purposes, and since I usually teach self defense classes to women, I use the male pronoun for the assailant, but the fact is abusers can be male or female.)
For background, read my blog “The Broken Woman”
The thing is, even as an uninformed and naïve young adult, I knew it was wrong for someone to hit me. That was a “black and white don’t even have to think about it” truth in my mind. But the insidious and manipulative steps that take place in a relationship were not black and white. They were so subtle I didn’t even recognize what was going on.
I’m older and wiser now.
What I know now is that abuse is not just physical violence. Many men and women are in emotionally abusive relationships that can be incredibly damaging. The person you love can manipulate your emotions and thought process to such an extent that you are essentially paralyzed. You may become adept at keeping the up the façade for your co workers and friends, but inside you are coming apart.
The abuser may wear a suit or a construction hat. They are male as well female and the problem is rampant in all social and economic circles. Someone sitting beside you in church or at work may be in an abusive relationship. Maybe you are?
They may never physically hit or push you, but the damage is severe. You start to doubt your own thoughts and emotions; you doubt your own sanity.
The children’s rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is NOT TRUE. Words can wound and damage, destroy relationships, self esteem and self confidence.
The following information, “Personality Traits of Rapists and Abusers” started my research into the world of Domestic Violence. My thanks to my friend Marc “Animal” MacYoung for much of the information I use in my classes, including the “Personality Traits” document that is handed out to every attendee.
If you are in an abusive relationship, get help. Talk to a trusted friend, your pastor, a family member. If you are in Arkansas, contact the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
We start our Anger Management Curriculum next week.