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Domestic Violence Affects Men And Women

 

October 1, 2020

Editor's note: October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. In 2009 the Countywide & Sun published a series of articles about domestic violence. Publisher Suzie Campbell wrote the series in an effort to make the public more aware and understanding of the struggles victims face when in these type relationships. This is the first of six articles.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) says one in every three women and one in four men will experience domestic violence by an intimate partner. I was one of those three.

The NCADV describes domestic violence as the willful intimidation, physical assault, batter, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another.

In 2009 a law was passed in Oklahoma that changed first-time domestic abuse from a misdemeanor to a felony offense. However, domestic abuse often goes unnoticed and unreported until it is too late. Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for women killed by men in single victim-single offender, homicides, according to NCADV. The same fact sheet also states on a typical day, domestic violence hotlines receive approximately 21,000 calls, approximately 15 calls every minute.

I could go on and on about the statistics, but recently I had a young woman tell me her husband said when he hit her, it didn't count if he didn't leave a mark. WRONG! It counts every time you put her down, every time you threaten her, and every time you put your hands on her in anger.

The effects of domestic violence, whether physical or mental, do leave marks. It leaves scars that may never completely heal and will take years to overcome. I lived in an abusive marriage for nearly five years, and let me tell you, the physical wounds healed much faster than the psychological wounds. It took me years to recover mentally, and there are still times when some of that old life creeps into my new life.

Instead of quoting more statistics, I will tell you a story of a young woman and her struggle to free herself from an abusive relationship and move on with her life in a happier, healthier, and overall good relationship.

In December of 1981, we were married. I had five months of school left, but I was 18 and thought this is the one for me. I realized years later that the abuse started almost immediately after we started dating and continued throughout our marriage.

So we will start with the dating period. I met him the day school let out my junior year. He was funny and kind of a wild guy, not like anyone I had ever dated. He was a high school dropout, had longer hair, and rode a motorcycle everywhere.

We went out a few times casually, and he always seemed to be super attentive to whatever I wanted. He would bring me flowers and buy me cards and was a little jealous at times, but never seemed overly protective. I thought it was great. Then he gave me his class ring to wear.

Things started to change. I was his. He wanted us to get married soon, but I was still in high school. I talked to my mom, and we decided it was best to wait until after I graduated. But he kept pushing me to marry him.

He was misunderstood by everybody, his parents, his friends, his old girlfriends. He would tell me how miserable he had been before he met me, and I (of course) was going to make everything better for him.

We would have a perfect life together.

He told me he was going to join the Navy and wanted us to get married before he left for boot camp, so I agreed to marry him as soon as I turned 18, so we didn't have to have my parents' permission. This was the first of many lies.

I should have known when we had our first huge argument that something was terribly wrong with this guy, but I opted to dismiss the signs. He would change for me. I just had to show him how much I loved him.

That first fight was a definite control thing, but I thought he was being super jealous and over something as dumb as hearing a man's voice in the background when he called me that day. It was my Dad and his friend visiting, but he was sure I was seeing someone else.

When I had finally argued the point until I was utterly furious, I got in my car to go home. I started the car and began to drive off when he grabbed the door handle, and it jerked him off his feet. I ran over his leg, but it just buried it in the mud. He rolled over into a fetal position. All I could think was, "Oh my God, I've killed him right here in his parents' driveway."

I screamed his name several times as I jumped out of the car to see if he was okay. He didn't answer, just moaned. I ran to him and grabbed him to roll him over and see if he was okay. As soon as I touched him, he began laughing and hugged me. He got me to stop. We argued a little while longer, but eventually, I gave in to his poor pitiful life story and promised again that I would always be there for him.

There were many other instances, but all ended the same way. I would feel sorry for him in the end, and I knew that I could make him happy. We continued dating.

Stick around. I have lots more to tell you.

 

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