Today I'm touching on a topic that may be a bit controversial and is definitely new territory for this blog but immensely important. Domestic abuse affects one in every four women during her lifetime!! That statistic is higher than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer COMBINED!!!! More importantly, domestic abuse is way more than just physical. This is a huge misconception. Domestic abuse takes many different forms, trust me, I should know.
A topic like this is very rarely a conversation starter, yet when approached with this project I was very passionate about sharing my own story... or as much of it as I feel comfortable with at the moment. For a long time I was in an abusive relationship and in complete denial. At first there were no physical altercations. However, there were other signs of abusive behavior. At the time I thought they were subtle signs, now I know the difference.
Domestic abuse can take the form of physical abuse, mental, emotional, financial, etc etc etc. Any moment in which someone is purposefully causing you to feel less than in some way is a huge red flag. For me it was mostly mental and emotional. I was in a situation were the majority of my actions and decisions were controlled. I was "not allowed" to do certain things. Of course the abuser always has "good reason" for the rules they set in place so you feel as if he/she is justified in controlling you. THIS IS WRONG. No one can tell you what to do or what not to do. It took me a lonnnggg time to really learn and ingrain this fact into my head. Over time I started to make more and more of my own decisions and boy did -he- not like that!! This caused arguments and fights and comments along the lines of, and I'm paraphrasing, I need to be told what to do because I don't know how to make my own decisions. I was painted to be a sort of child that needed to be looked after. All of this greatly affected my self esteem, along with an obsessive amount of infidelities on his part. I was always feeling like I would never be good enough. It has been a long process and a slow climb to build my self esteem back up again, and honestly it still is not where it should be but I'm very proud of myself.
Through this entire experience I've learned to LOVE MYSELF unconditionally and to trust in myself. It was unfortunate that I had to live through that, yea I guess, but it shaped me into who I am so I am grateful for that. Each and every human being is an amazing creature with the power and right to make their own decisions and live the life they choose to live. Never let anyone take your power from you!
I understand there should be mutual respect in a relationship, but trust is also a huge factor. If you are the one afraid to be cheated on, you can not control someone and obligate them to stay home and have no social life. If someone is going to cheat on you, believe meeee, they will cheat in any random way they can. And that's okay. That's their decision. You just have to accept the fact and move on accordingly based on your feelings (to forgive, or to leave the relationship). If you are the one being controlled you should realize this stems from a lack of trust on the other persons side and this is WRONG. No one should ever control your decisions.
I feel very strongly concerning this topic because I lived it for so long. When I see this happening to those around me I just wish I could pop them into my brain for a moment and share my knowledge and experiences with them. I guess this is my way of doing that now. It's OKAY to leave a situation that is no longer positive for your life and growth. It's OKAY to start over, or to just be alone for a while and work on growing yourself. There is no justifiable reason to stay in a domestic abuse situation.
I believe that domestic abuse is about power. The abuser tries to take power away from you to empower themselves. Essentially they try to tip the scales in their favor. However, I also believe that this will never work. They will never feel like they have 'enough' power and will always be seeking more. True feelings of power come from within and can never be gained by taking from another person. It will never be truly satisfying. Don't allow anyone to take your power. Build yourself up and believe in yourself. You are powerful, you are smart, you are beautiful, you are the most perfect you that you can be in this very moment and only getting better and better each day!
I say all that to say this: domestic abuse is more common than we like to believe. I've shared part of my story with you today to open up the conversation. Sometimes just talking to someone helps or hearing someone else's story. The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse program is making it fashionable to talk about domestic abuse - namely financial abuse. While two-thirds of Americans believe that domestic abuse is a big problem only 1 in every 3 ever speak about it. One of the best first steps you can take is to get a conversation started - with anyone. It can be a parent, a friend, a counselor, or yourself in the mirror, it all helps.
Domestic abuse and financial abuse very frequently go hand in hand. One of the biggest reasons people find to stay in an abusive relationship is financial difficulties. They feel that they can not financially survive without the abusive party. This is one of the most powerful tools to keeping an abuse victim 'trapped'.
The Allstate Foundation is taking strides to eradicate this problem. Since 2005 they have invested over $40 million in helping domestic abuse survivors regain control of their finances and break free from their abusers. They are now investing over half a million dollars int he Purple Purse Challenge. You can help in their efforts by going to bit.ly/PurplePurse_14 and taking part in the challenge between September 2 and October 3. You can find and help a nonprofit near you by donating. I checked the website again this morning and almost $500,000 has been raised already! It truly gives me goosebumps to witness the love and charity that we show to each other, even those we don't even know.
I hope if this blog post can enlighten even one person, it is a success. I want to leave you with some very important numbers that I hope you never have to use: If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.