October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I have seen plenty of social media posts and PSAs circulating with phone numbers and websites about how the victims can get help. In seeing them – I am always glad they are there.
However, there is also this twinge of pain. There are strong moments of sadness for me and I’m sure others in the same boat. You see, many of us have a family member or friend who may be victims of domestic violence, but the phone numbers and websites mean nothing because they do not use them.
I am talking about the men and women who may be in an abusive situation but they continually decide to stay, take it and suffer.
For family members and friends watching this happen we too suffer. We all know we would step in and help at the drop of a hat. We all hold our breath as we know that one day we will get the call saying things went too far and the person we love is hurt or dead.
Sound harsh? It is harsh. It sounds that way because it is reality. We know that all the efforts to talk sense are falling to the wayside and we often lose the small battles to the abuser who, for reasons we cannot figure, continues to win the war.
Statistics provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence say this about victims:
On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. One in four women and one in nine men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner. Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.
According to SafeLives, an organization aimed at ending domestic violence, it can take years for a victim to even seek help. And when they do seek help for that first time, it likely ends with a phone call but could take another year or more for the victim to be serious.
On average, SafeLives estimates that a victim can be hurt physically 50 times or more before thinking about getting help.
Domestic violence has a far-reaching affect on so many lives and our communities. For those who have to stand on the sidelines because legally there is nothing you can do – I feel for all of you. I say be strong and never lose hope.
We all have to believe that a good outcome is possible.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.