Tag Archives: domestic violence awareness month

October Is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month

Do we really need to make people more aware of domestic violence? We have had many public service announcements, sports celebrities speaking out against domestic violence, and the victims of abuse, some celebrity victims are speaking out. I think everyone is aware it exists, it is no longer considered to be a “private matter”. 

The legal system; police, judges, etc have made some strides in how they deal with the victims of abuse, but any progress is slow. 

Stats actually show an increase in the number of domestic violence cases, which just happens to coincide with government cutbacks to programs and services for the victims of domestic violence since the economic crash.

The Guardian
In Canada, if a woman wants to leave an abusive relationship and calls one of the shelters she is told there are no beds available. When I was looking there wasn’t space in any shelters from Chilliwack to White Rock and certainly nothing if you had a pet.

And as I have mentioned numerous times before; welfare rates are sorrowfully inadequate, extremely so if you are a single woman. There is a bit more help for women with children but let’s be serious; all mom’s want their children to be happy. The prospect of taking them to a shelter or struggling to provide for them is scarey and the last thing a mother wants to do. Then the courts rule that the dad gets visitation, he is on a slander campaign and playing the victim. More than likely the children miss their daddy and he is putting on pressure to “put the family back together”. 

On top of everything else the victim has to deal with, she probably has PTSD, and also is dealing with the prejudices and misconceptions of not only society but those closest to her; her friends and family. Old stereotypes die hard and when you are struggling to find the strength to get up every morning the last thing you should have to listen to is the judgements of others.

All the “awareness” in the world is not going to put an end to domestic abuse. Until we can breakthrough old stereotypes I am afraid we will continue to repeat history. What old stereotypes am I talking about?

Stereotypes people don’t even realize they have; which makes them so hard to break through.

I am almost 7 years out of the relationship and can still feel the sting when someone says something off the cuff that they don’t mean as an insult. I know they would be surprised if they knew how much it hurts. 

Let me clarify, I correct their erroneous belief but I don’t tell them how much it hurts; for a couple of reasons

1. I don’t want to make a huge deal out of it and make them feel bad or embarrass them. 

2. These people have known me my whole life and been with me through the past 7 years. What is it that makes it so hard for them to “get it”. 

I have to dig deep to not let it get to me and I am not freshly out of the relationship with raw emotions and shattered self esteem. 

In the past few months I have dealt with extreme anger because I had gone back numerous times. The same fact was used as justification for someone I trusted to screw me over and lie about me, telling people the reason they did what they did was because I had gone back to my ex. I said to them that I hadn’t gone back to my ex and they said, “But you had gone back many times.” 

My reply, “Yes, I had gone back but not that time. Not until you turned everyone against me and I felt totally deserted and thrown to the wolves did I go back.” 

It seems when the victim is at their lowest they end up being subjected to mistreatment by the very people who should have their back.

The other false assumption is that the victim is stupid, can’t handle finances, and is emotionally unstable. 

I was voicing some concerns for a young lady who recently started dating a guy I picked up some red flags on. I was shocked when someone who I have known 30 years said not to worry about her, she’s not the “type” to get involved with a narcissist. She is level headed, got her priorities straight and not about to fall for an asshole. 

This is so much bigger than telling women to not be ashamed and it wasn’t their fault because if we don’t change beliefs that are deeply embedded in our psyche we will keep inadvertently shaming the victim into silence. Women feel forced to try to solve or fix the relationship on her own. A strong woman will be more likely to stay and try to figure out how to fix things because up until now she has always been capable an able to solve situations. She usually has strong communication skills and keeps trying to convey her feelings thinking sooner or later she will be able to explain, to the N; why she is so hurt and he will have an epiphany and go back to the sweet man she met. 

A strong woman will stick it out longer in hopes of saving enough resources to leave without help from anyone. A strong woman will try to just “get over it” without talking about it because she has always been able to land on her feet in the past. A strong woman is much more likely to keep silent because she is embarrassed to be in the situation she finds herself in.

Silence pertetuates the problem.  

What preconceived beliefs do you or did you hold about victims of abuse? What prejudices have you encountered?

A final thought; 

Yes, I know men also suffer from abuse. I am not saying they don’t.  But! Women are 4.2 times more likely to be abused or die at the hands of their intimate partner.  

Some stats:

1 in 4 women in North America and 1 in 3 women worldwide will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

In the US there are 960,000 reported incidents of domestic abuse annually.

On an average 3 women and 1 man die daily of domestic violence.

95% of domestic violence victims are female.

I speak out primarily for female victims of domestic violence because it is what I have experienced and women are at a much higher risk. Violence against women is at an epidemic level and it is not getting any better.

If you are a man who feels men need a spokesperson I encourage you to do that. I do not hate men, I do believe in love, and I believe there is nothing better than being in a loving, healthy, respectful relationship (except maybe owning a dog)

It is like Black Lives Matter and people saying All Lives Matter. BLM activists are speaking out for black people, they are not saying other nationalities are not persecuted. But each group of victims have their own unique challenges and prejuices to over come.

As a society we can all work towards ending violence and racism by simply speaking out and not turning a blind eye when we see abuse of any kind. Do what is right, not what is easy. Have the guts to speak up when you hear people expressing prejudice and racism.

Its time everyone realized we all play a role in how society functions and take an honest inventory of our beliefs and own how our actions or inaction affects others. “I don’t want to get involved” is no longer acceptable because by not getting involved you are perpetuating the problem. 

October is the month to wear your purple ribbon and speak out about domestic violence, Imagenot that you should stay quiet the other 11 months of the year!

The fact that we have a Domestic Violence Awareness Month at all is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done by all of us. I have posted stats here before about how one in four women will be abused, and 70% of domestic homicides happen just before or just after the couple split.

Silence is the greatest weapon of the abuser, it is what enables him to continue leaving a trail of destruction behind him. Many victims are so relieved to be away from him and are so afraid of retaliation from him if she tells anyone about the abuse the victim often keeps quiet about the abuse and suffers in silence. Often times the victim feels it was their own fault for the abuse, they “asked” for it, they “allowed” it, and according to some people in society they even “enjoyed” it.

I would never expect a victim to speak out about her abuse if it put her or her children and family in danger, not everyone can speak out. Some people are just not able to speak in public, do not have a talent for the written word, are too shy or lack the confidence but we all owe it to future victims to do something, to keep quiet; just happy its not you any more; is not acceptable in my mind.

There is always something a person can do, write to your politicians, work for a suicide hot line or for a woman’s shelter, even just to tell the people you come across day-to-day when they repeat false stereotypes about abuse victims, even commenting on blogs like this to share your experiences and support others who are going through what you did. Talk to teenage girls, and if you see someone you suspect is being abused reach out to them. Tell people to read my blog or any other blog on the subject.

I had an email from a woman who was due to get married in 7 weeks, her girlfriend flew to the city she was in and said you have to read this woman’s blog. the woman read my blog and realized she was about to marry an abusive man. She cancelled the wedding, packed her bags and left. She had to get the police involved because he stalked her for four months.She was writing to let me know that her girlfriend showing her my blog saved her from making what could have been a fatal mistake. A perfect example of someone not worrying about offending someone, not afraid to stick her nose into someone else’s business and breaking the silence. So much better than after the woman has suffered years of abuse or God for bid is murdered say, “I always knew there was something wrong with him.”

I have been questioned by my family why I would have this blog, why wouldn’t I just move on, why keep reminding myself of the pain? Because I feel very strongly about using my experiences and my ability to put my thoughts into type, to stopping it somehow through awareness.

Often times the abuser presents a calm, rational friendly persona while the victim is emotional, fearful, and confused making the abuser’s claims that the victim is irrational and abusive to him more believable. If someone would have asked me 15 years ago if I would ever be in an abusive relationship I would have laughed at them. But no one knows what it is like and why the victim is a basket case unless you have been there. The total frustration caused by the false accusations, the lies, the bizarre actions of the abuser is enough to drive the most sane person to the point of a nervous breakdown.  The physical abuse is not what comes to mind when I think of JC it is the emotional abuse that was so horrible the thought of those 10 years brings tears to my eyes and I am fighting them now.

I have brought the wrath of JC onto myself by having this blog? or maybe it would have happened even if I didn’t have the blog? I guess I will never know. Would he have come back 2 1/2 years after we split and try to ruin my life if I didn’t have my blog, would he have heard I was doing well without him and wanted to knock me down again just to show me he could? I do believe my blog to some degree keeps me safe; if anything happened to me he would be the first suspect. I know that my silence did not guarantee he wouldn’t slander me because the minute he discarded me he started his smear campaign, he had to slander my name because he had to do damage control so his cover wasn’t blown. He had to make sure his new woman thought I was a psycho and dangerous, so she wouldn’t talk to me or believe me if she did talk to me. To me his lies seem so obvious; I wonder how could she have not seen all the red flags, why on earth did she “lend” him thousands of dollars only months into the relationship? But then I think, I didn’t see the signs. Oh sure there were little things that didn’t sit right but none of them in themselves were enough of a red flag to run. Hindsight is 20/20, ten years of living with an abusive man gives you insight you normally would never gain. When I met JC, it was just like “they” say it is when you meet your soul mate. “When you least expect it, when you aren’t looking for it he will just walk into your life and you’ll know.” I had never had that happen to me, I had several marriages under my belt but never felt that immediate connection with a man like I did with JC. I had always been a very independent woman, and had been criticized for it, I had been told more than once that I was to independent and that men didn’t feel I needed them. I was a working single mom who bought her own houses thank you very much, I was the girl friend who told her friends they didn’t have to take any bullshit from a man. I was the woman who meant it when she said, “It’s over.” I would cry, miss the guy, but never did I lose my joy for life or my excitement about the future. I was always curious about what the future held and who I might meet next. I wasn’t afraid to get involved with a man because I knew i was perfectly capable of making it on my own. I would never be dependent on any man. I was 41 years old, not a kid, with job skills, I was attractive, if I had never been in an abusive relationship in my life I certainly didn’t fear it would happen now!! I can’t even say that the 10 years with JC would have been my worst nightmare because I couldn’t have ever imagined living like that, it was totally out of any frame of reference I had. I couldn’t believe I was in it when I was cowering in a corner screaming for help as he came at me with his fist raised.

There is a fallacy that women who end up in abusive relationships are weak, insecure, uneducated, not too bright, co-dependent, from lower class society, and lacking in self-respect, desperate for a man, any man. I know that is what I thought. I also thought they must like it or why wouldn’t they “just leave”.

ImageSo many times the woman in an abusive relationship tells no one because she is ashamed she is allowing it to happen, then if she does tell someone they are skeptical. Our law enforcement and courts do not recognize abuse or how manipulative abusers can be. I experienced the police arriving because I called for help, JC waiting for them at the gate to the community where we lived and by the time they got to my house the police were telling me not to start anything.

I took off in JC’s truck and went to the welfare office seeking help to get away and the woman behind the counter told me that there was a 6 weeks waiting period for assistance and there was nothing she could do. I went home. It was a year later when I found a number for a domestic violence hot line and got up the courage to call, only to be told that due to government cut backs there were no beds available in any of the shelters from Mission to Vancouver, they didn’t have anyone available to come and talk to me but if i wanted to drive into town someone would meet me for coffee. They failed to understand I was basically being held captive in a gravel pit, with no sewer, kitchen, or bathroom living in a mouse infested scale house; with no money or vehicle.

I was funded by the government to attend college taking Business Management Courses as long as my attendance remained above 70%. When I left the school with JC one day in tears and never returned the school phoned the police. A female officer came up to the gravel pit and knocked on the door of the tiny trailer we were living in at the time. I didn’t know where JC was, he was in the pit somewhere, the cop asked me if I needed help and I nodded my head yes. I thought she would take me right then but she turned and said someone would contact me. I watched her drive away. It was a about a week later a cop car pulled into the pit, JC was working on a vehicle and I was standing by the scale house, the cop asked if I was Carrie Reimer and handed me a brown manila envelope and left. JC of course wanted to know what that was all about; of course he found the envelope later and was furious it was full of information pamphlets on domestic violence. There was a restraining order against JC at the time from when he had ambushed my son and I when we came home one night.

ImageAs with most abusive relationships there were periods of abuse followed by a honeymoon period and the longer the victim is in the relationship the more power the abuser gains over the victim. Instead, like many people believe; eventually she will get sick of it and leave, she grows weaker and less able to leave. The abuser works daily at whittling away her self-confidence and isolates her, she loses more of her support system and every time she reaches out for help and doesn’t get it she loses hope. I remember JC sneering and spitting out, “Who are you going to call?……Your mother???” and laughing as he walked away.

In my mind the family of the victim, society, the laws all work in favor of the abuser and against the victim, re-victimizing her and forcing her into silence; and THAT  has to change.

Even the abuse victims don’t believe the abuser would really kill them, they must be paranoid, that kind of thing doesn’t happen in their world.

I realized yesterday how damaged I am still, without knowing it. My brother has his own construction company and needs my help doing errands, answering phones etc, extra cash for me and help for him ( I am thrilled! another prayer answered). Anyway my son is coming this weekend for a two-day visit and I am broke so I asked my brother to lend me money for groceries and he deposited money into my account for future wages. He text messaged me to make sure I kept track of how much money he gives me, the hours I work and what I was doing because we could forget.  I was surprised when my stomach tightened and I got this fearful feeling, I replied that he need not worry because while I was with JC I had to keep exact records of every dime he gave me and where I spent it because he would invoice me for bizarre amounts of money and badger me for payment. I can’t count how many times I paid him money I didn’t feel I owed him just to shut him up. He would badger me for days on end, from the minute I got up in the morning until I went to bed at night. What ever money I gave him was not counted towards repayment, even when I paid him in full for an amount he had come up with (before I started keeping track) I asked him; “Now am I paid up? Do I owe you any more money?” He had said yes I was paid up in full and then 2 weeks later he was harping on me about owing him money again. Just typing it now made my stomach sick. I had bad dreams about him last night, 3 years later memories of him can still do that to me.

It’s ok because now it passes quickly, realize it is a part of my past, and I am not under his control any more and I don’t relapse.

So have faith, healing does come but lets all reach out and do what we can to stop enabling these evil monsters to destroy any more lives.

Hugs to everyone. Image