Letter: Choose to live past domestic violence
October 2, 2014
With October being Domestic Violence Awareness month, and recent cases flooding the media, I felt compelled to write and speak out. To those of you who are thinking that you might be in a relationship that is headed in the direction of abusiveness or is already there, the fact that you are asking the question should be a red flag.
No relationship starts out that way, and you may be in denial that it is going that way, but too many end with someone beaten down — verbally, emotionally or with physical violence. It even happens to strong, smart people — it happens across racial, financial and educational lines. It doesn't discriminate. The longer it is allowed to continue, the worse the damage to one's self-esteem, pocketbook, mental state and to one's soul. It sometimes ends in the loss of one's life.
As victims, you do not cause it to happen, but you allow it to happen as long as you stay. It often sneaks up on us, starting with a small comment.
Do you feel inadequate, no matter what you do? Do you feel controlled, like a child that faces power and intimidation or threats? Do you feel heard or responded to appropriately when you have an opinion or something to share?
Are you hearing the message that you would fail at life without them? This is how abuse starts. It doesn't always turn physical, but verbal and emotional abuse is still abuse.
As a recent victim of domestic violence, I'm not trying to shine a light on my situation but on yours. It will get worse, starting with a shove or a hit of less intensity. If there are alcohol or drugs involved, it only accelerates the violence and can intensify it greatly. Most abusers cannot change without some kind of professional help, but the thing that we can change is us — the victims. Decide you are worth saving and don't allow it another day.
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If you feel isolated or in danger or are even really unsure if you are in an abusive relationship, reach out. Tell a trusted friend or family member how you feel. Do not keep it in the dark. Stand up, don't tolerate it any longer. Or if you are feeling weak, crawl away, but get out.
The wonderful team of people at Response were of immeasurable help to me. Response has a 24-hour hotline and can help you develop exit strategies and safe plans, offer emotional support and help navigating avenues of aid and legal services, and it has counseling and support groups. Put yourself in touch with a team that truly cares, and probably speaks more softly and kindly than what you've been hearing.
Think about your uniqueness and gifts, you deserve to be celebrated, not beaten down. It is never too late, unless you don't survive.
Choose to live, really live, and shine a light on the darkness that is domestic violence.
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