South Carolina currently ranks 5th in the nation for the number of women murdered by men as a result of domestic violence. Over the past month our community has been rocked to its core with several accounts of domestic violence on women. In the past month alone, a Lexington County Sheriff’s Department employee, Lindsey Lee, was murdered by her estranged husband and a local pastor and Reserve Chaplain for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Michael Baker, was charged with domestic violence against his wife.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone. It does not discriminate against race, religion, career, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.
Criminal Domestic Violence is defined by The United States Department of Justice as,
A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.
I am a survivor of verbal and physical abuse during my first marriage. I was in my late teenage years when I decided I was old enough to make grown up decisions. But I was still very much a child.
My husband didn’t allow me to wear shorts above my knees or a swimsuit; I was called every horrible name in the book. And then there was the physical abuse … I remember two specific incidents where my ex-husband hurt me. The first was when I was pushed against a wall and choked. The second was when I was held under the water in a swimming pool, out of anger.
The marriage lasted a little over a year before I packed up my apartment and left while he was at work (If you are in an abusive relationship, I feel it is best to leave when your partner is not home).
After I left, the next few years were rough. I decided that I never wanted to have to depend on a man again. I enrolled in my local community college and two years later graduated with my associates degree.
How You Can Help Break the Cycle
Mamas, please don’t ever EVER tell your little girl that a boy likes her because he picks on her or is mean to her. I vividly remember when I was in kindergarten a boy pushed me down while we were playing in the sandbox. There was a thick wooden edge to it and I scraped my knee. When I told the teacher what happened she just smiled and said, “That’s because he likes you.” I thought she was nuts. Sometimes I think about that experience and wonder if that comment skewed my view of relationships.
I know it is hard to leave these situations. In fact, leaving is the hardest thing to do, especially when children are involved. It is difficult for women who have never been in an abusive relationship to understand this. That’s why it’s important to seek help from domestic abuse organizations and reach out to close friends and family for help.
What I want you to know is that if you are in a physically abusive relationship your partner will not change. BUT you can rise above and move on. You can break the cycle.
Children who grow up with an abusive parent are likely to abuse their “lovers” too. Verbal abuse can escalate into assault and assault can escalate to death. The deal with abusive and narcissistic people is that they don’t usually show their possessiveness and abusive ways until after you get married or after they feel like they have trapped you. And that leaves the victim feeling trapped. But there is a way out…
Help is Available
Domestic Abuse Hotline – If you are in a relationship with an abusive person call 1-800-799-7233 or visit the Domestic Abuse Hotline site. If you know or think your abuser is screening your internet search history, please just call the number above from a friend or relatives phone where it cannot be traced back to you.
Sistercare – Sistercare is a Columbia organization that offers help and support to women in Lexington, Richland, Kershaw, Fairfield, and Newberry counties. Their crisis line is: 803-765-9428.
Shelters and helpful organizations – The office of the South Carolina Attorney General has put together a list of shelters and organizations that help women who are victims of domestic violence. You can find the list and each organizations contact information and hotline HERE.