Domestic violence is a topic most people don’t want to talk about. It’s something that affects our society and is quite prevalent, but we’d rather wish it away than address it. ‘Get over it; he can’t hurt you anymore‘, someone suggested. ‘Keep the blog light and breezy and feel good‘, suggested another. ‘Speak in general terms about empowering women and matters that affect them. Don’t always bring up that topic’, was the last bit of advice I got.
I’d like to think that there’s something for every woman on this blog. So if this topic makes you uncomfortable, feel free to skip it. You can always come back when you’re ready.
But here’s the thing – I don’t do light and breezy. I suppose I can if I try but at the heart of it, FemmePowered is about empowering women, no matter their story. This blog was borne out of my abuse story. My story and I are inseparable. Telling my story has helped me in ways you can’t imagine. It also opened doors for me to help others, share, teach and speak. So I’ll continue bringing up the topic. I’m fearless when it comes to this topic because I understand that fear creates phantoms. Fear causes us to see boogey men behind curtains in the dark. Yet when we turn the light on its sometimes our own shadow or the upturned broom in the corner. Let’s turn the light on this topic.
As someone who experienced an abusive marriage, I have a hard time not talking about abuse. To do so would be like putting a muzzle on myself. I’d also be doing a disservice to the women I work with and those who reach out to me from time to time to share their story. This sort of violence makes you feel alone, small and afraid. Women who’ve experienced intimate partner violence need someone who understands their pain. And they want to talk to someone who will refrain from judging them or looking down at them. I try to be those things to the women I work with.
So let’s talk about what domestic or intimate partner violence may look like and how it can manifest itself. I want you to know that it’s more than hitting. Believe it or not, you can be in an abusive relationship without being physically assaulted. It still surprises me how many people don’t know this. Let’s get into the manifestations of abuse. I did not come up with the list. The original source is credited here and I’ve used their points because they’ve done a good job covering the main types of abuse women face.
- Physical – Inflicting or attempting to inflict physical injury
example: grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hitting, biting, arm-twisting, kicking, punching, hitting with blunt objects, stabbing, shooting. Withholding access to resources necessary to maintain health example: medication, medical care, wheelchair, food or fluids, sleep, hygienic assistance Forcing alcohol or other drug use.
Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact without consent.
example: marital rape, acquaintance rape, forced sex after physical beating, attacks on the sexual parts of the body, forced prostitution, fondling, sodomy, sex with others. Attempting to undermine the victim’ sexuality
example: treating him/her in a sexually derogatory manner, criticizing sexual performance and desirability, accusations of infidelity, withholding sex.
Instilling or attempting to instill fear.
example: intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, victim, and/or others, threatening to harm and/or kidnap children, menacing, blackmail, harassment, destruction of pets and property, mind games, stalking. Isolating or attempting to isolate victim from friends, family, school, and/or work example: withholding access to phone and/or transportation, undermining victim’s personal relationships, harassing others, constant “checking up,” constant accompaniment, use of unfounded accusations, forced imprisonment.
Undermining or attempting to undermine victim sense of worth.
example: constant criticism, belittling victim’s abilities and competency, name-calling, insults, put-downs, silent treatment, manipulating victim’s feelings and emotions to induce guilt, subverting a partner’s relationship with the children, repeatedly making and breaking promises.
Making or attempting to make the victim financially dependent.
example: maintaining total control over financial resources including victim’s earned income or resources received through public assistance or social security, withholding money and/or access to money, forbidding attendance at school, forbidding employment, on-the-job harassment, requiring accountability and justification for all money spent, forced welfare fraud, withholding information about family running up bills for which the victim is responsible for payment.
I know; it’s a lot to take in and a lot to consider, especially if any of it applies to you. If you or anyone you know is being abused, please get help. When God created you, He never had it in mind for you to be anyone’s punching bag or the object of their rage or mind games. It was never part of His plan for you to be treated badly or experience any of the examples in the list above. It. Is. Not. Right. Ever! You’re so special. You’re important and you’re beautiful. Trust me you are. So get help! Get it now! You deserve better. Don’t settle for less. Feel free to get in touch if you need to. And stay tuned to my upcoming Blab on this topic.
Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2017.