Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Photographed by Cassidy Palmateer of Sophie Dehn, Brynn Beauchamp and Anna Konen
By Anna Konen
It often starts with a playful slap on the arm, as they insist, it was just a joke. Three weeks later comes the shove because you said something you weren’t supposed to. 6 months pass by with no incidents, and no accidental bumps or bruises until they finally have you convinced it really was a one-time thing. They are so nice; you begin to think that nothing like that could ever happen again. Until they come home from work after a difficult day, and you are next in line in their path of destruction. The cycle continues as you start looking for the best color-correcting concealer and keep making excuses for the random bruises on your body.
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If it happened once, it is more likely to happen again. However, getting out is easier said than done, and making excuses for those that we still love is second nature. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is every October but wearing the color purple every Thursday and raising awareness one month out of 12 is simply not enough for the hundreds of thousands of people that face domestic abuse every year.
Domestic Violence cannot be defined as just a bruised arm or black eye. Often these scars go deeper than the physical things that we can see. Emotional manipulation, stalking, sexual abuse, and financial abuse all fall under the umbrella of domestic violence, and all these forms of abuse are happening each and every day. These forms of abuse are often gateways into what will soon become physical abuse. Although awareness is just one step, it is more than most are doing, and we are determined to continue to spread knowledge of the unspeakable things that are still happening.
We frequently assume that domestic violence only affects those we do not know or love. However, as seen by the following anonymous statements provided by students at Central Michigan University, these issues are becoming increasingly relevant in our world today. We are sharing these stories for awareness, to bond over shared experiences, and most of all, to help you know that all women, men, and non-binary individuals going through these horrific experiences are NOT ALONE and refuse to be silenced.
NEARLY 20 PEOPLE PER MINUTE ARE PHYSICALLY ABUSED BY AN INTIMATE PARTNER
After you took what you did from me, I did not know what to think. I was told I wanted it. I was told that I was asking for it. I was young, I did not even understand what had happened to me. I did not have a term or definition for what you did. I thought maybe I had said yes and did not remember. I had nightmares about you for months. I had to see you in the hallways at school and pretend that I was fine. I had to face judgment from my peers calling me a slut for what you did. You twisted the story and made me into a person I am not. I did not have the confidence to tell anyone the real story. After years of denial and eventual reflection and acceptance, I now know what happened. I now have a term and definition for what you did. I will fight every day for other victims in my shoes so that they will never have to face what I had to.
MORE THAN 90% OF VICTIMS KNOW THEIR ATTACKER
As someone who grew up being sexually abused by family members, partners, coworkers, and friends it is honestly not something I would wish on anyone. When I was around five to seven my brother was the very first one to ever do anything to me against my will. It started out as him saying “let’s play this fun game” and slowly progressed to very violent and humiliating acts against me. It was not very far after it started to get worse that my uncle (who lived with me at the time) started to join in. Soon after he joined, I realized this wasn’t normal but was threatened for it to be worse if I spoke up. Things such as “just let it happen or he’ll join” became a very normalized thing for either of them to say. It was as if I was a rag doll to them. They used me every day while my parents were at work. Soon after my uncle moved out, it started to slow down, and eventually stopped. But that wasn’t going to be the last time this happened to me. September of 2020, I had gotten with my best friend who I had feelings for. She wanted to do things I wasn’t very comfortable with and when told I wasn’t comfortable, she had ripped my pants off of me (luckily, I had shorts under), but she proceeded to try and reach in my shorts. She constantly gaslit me during this saying things like “if you love me, you’ll do it.” Eventually I had enough and pushed her off and called my parents to be picked up. Of course, this wasn’t gonna be the last time I encountered this. This year I was sexually assaulted by a coworker of mine and cannot really speak on it too much, but I am filling charges against him. He’s been the only one I have been able to do that against.
ON A TYPICAL DAY, THERE ARE MORE THAN 20,000 PHONE CALLS PLACED TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOT LINES NATIONWIDE
I have been assaulted not once, not twice but three times. Two were kids my age. Once it was my uncle. The lack of self-confidence and trust I have in not only other people but myself. It’s a constant battle. It ruined so many relationships since others did not either know what was going on in my head or did not know how to help. I never wish this on anyone. Male or female. I pray people are taught how much it affects the victim and can understand no means no, silence means no, anything but a yes means no
1 IN 4 WOMEN AND 1 IN 9 MEN EXPERIENCE INTIMATE PARTNER PHYSICAL VIOLENCE
My best friend growing up was my neighbor, a boy two years older than me. There were other boys who lived on the street as well. I was the ONLY girl. From 4 years old until fifth grade, I was put into many situations that I shouldn’t have been. I was asked to remove my clothes. I was asked to kiss them. They would show me their penises. And my neighbor would want to always touch my breasts. I never let him take off my bra. Over time, I realized that I never wanted to participate in any of these actions. I would refuse. They would keep asking. Then I would cave. I figured getting it over and done with would keep them from asking any more. I didn’t realize the weight of those actions. I didn’t realize that I actually had a choice. I realize now that many of the decisions I make stem from these situations. Overall, it just makes me sad.
He didn’t listen when I asked him to stop.
1 IN 15 CHILDREN ARE EXPOSED TO INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE EACH YEAR, AND 90% OF THESE CHILDREN ARE EYEWITNESS TO THIS VIOLENCE
My love language is physical touch but after that night the thought of someone’s hands on my body makes me sick.
What does that make me?
Incapable of love?
All I know is I want to be held but I don’t want to be touched.
The walls in my mind are too high for someone to reach their hands over and embrace me.
MORE THAN 2 OUT OF 3 DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INCIDENTS GO UNREPORTED MOST CASES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ARE NEVER REPORTED TO THE POLICE.
My body is stained by his.
I can’t seem to find comfort when I lay on my mattress anymore.
I can’t seem to close my eyes.
To find a single moment to breathe.
Underneath the sheets of my own bed.
If I sleep, I am vulnerable.
If I close my eyes, it’s still within my mind.
My cotton sheets spinning in the washing machine. Again. Again. Again.
The bedding still doesn’t feel clean to me.
We must do better by the people that we love. An alarming number of lives are lost every year due to domestic violence cases like stalking, rape, and abuse. Instead of looking for the best color-correcting concealers to hide our bruises, we must look for answers and consequences for those that are perpetuating the abuse. Lives should no longer be lost, nor should our peers, friends, or family suffer in silence.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ABUSE HOTLINE
HELP IS AVAILABLE