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October is…

October 3rd, 2008

Domestic Violence awareness month. Have a seat. I’m comfy up here on this soapbox.

We all know that October is breast cancer awareness month – everything is pink, there are walks, television spots, pink ribbons are everywhere, etc. I think that is fabulous – it is an important issue for women. We should all be educated so we can protect ourselves. But I’ve always been a little bothered by how completely it overshadows a dirty little secret that lives in all neighborhoods: Domestic Violence.

I’ve had private conversations with several of you about how domestic violence has touched our lives. It used to be a cause I was passionate about. Then I found myself on the wrong end of a gun in my bathroom and suddenly I realized I was a victim to the very thing I had spent almost a decade educating others about. So it really can happen to any one – even someone who spent years being an advocate and educator for other women. It sneaks up on you even when you know the warning signs. For an educated woman like me, it took a gun to my head to make me see the whole truth. Don’t ever think you or any one else you love is immune.

Domestic Violence can have many forms.

There doesn’t have to be a gun to your head in order for abuse to be part of your relationship. It is about control. It might be controlling the money or controlling outside relationships or controlling movements. It is also about fear. It doesn’t have to be physical fear. It can be as simple as fear of the argument that will follow if you do or don’t do something. (Not because you just don’t like to fight…but because the arguments turn ugly.)

And it follows a very predictable cycle:

Everything starts out all hunky-dory. He (I’m using the classic male as the abuser and woman as victim pronouns but it can be any domestic relationship) sweeps you off your feet. He is sweet and wonderful and attentive and romantic. Often the relationship gets very serious very quickly. Then the cycle begins. The tension building phase is that period of time when you are walking on egg shells. You are doing anything you can to avoid a fight. He is becoming short tempered and irritable. Then the inevitable explosion. It might be a physical fight or it might just be a really ugly verbal fight. The tension has been released and he returns (sometimes quite briefly) to the sweet man you originally fell in love with. He is sorry. It won’t happen again. And then comes tension building again. The cycle can happen over a very short period or it can take weeks or months to move through the cycle. As time goes by, the cycle tends to grow shorter.

Questions to ask:

1. Does your partner tease you in a hurtful way in private or in public?

2. Does your partner call you names such as “stupid” or “bitch”?

3. Does your partner act jealous of your friends, family, or co-workers?

4. Does your partner get angry about clothes you wear or how you style your hair?

5. Does your partner check-up on you by calling, driving by, or getting someone else to?

6. Has your partner gone places with you or sent someone just to “keep an eye on you”?

7. Does your partner insist on knowing who you talk with on the phone?

8. Does your partner blame you for his problems or his bad mood?

9. Does your partner get angry so easily that you feel like you’re “walking on eggshells”?

10. Does your partner hit walls, drive dangerously, or do other things to scare you?

11. Does your partner often drink or use drugs?

12. Does your partner insist that you drink or use drugs with him?

13. Have you lost friends or no longer see some of your family because of your partner?

14. Does your partner accuse you of being interested in someone else?

15. Does your partner read your mail, go through your purse, or other personal papers?

16. Does your partner keep money from you, keep you in debt, or have “money secrets?”

17. Has your partner kept you from getting a job, or caused you to lose a job?

18. Has your partner sold your car, made you give up your license, or not repaired your car?

19. Does your partner threaten to hurt you, your children, family, friends, or pets?

20. Does your partner force you to have sex when you do not want to?

21. Does your partner force you to have sex in ways that you do not want to?

22. Does your partner threaten to kill you or himself if you leave?

23. Is your partner like “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” acting one way in front of other people and another way when you are alone?

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE.

There are many websites you can find if you want more information but if you are in an abusive relationship please use a computer at a friend’s house or the library. It is very difficult to completely remove evidence that you were surfing sites about abuse so using an outside computer is safest.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 3rd, 2008 at 8:25 am and is filed under political. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

20 Responses to “October is…”

  1. Jessica Says:

    Thanks for sharing… It is happens to people we know and even close to… much more than we want to admit or even open our eyes to see it…

  2. carla Says:


    I really had no idea (about the month…)

  3. Liz Says:

    Thank you. We use the same first 2 handouts in our volunteer training. We don’t deal primarily with victims, but their children. It’s amazing how much domestic violence impacts our children.
    Thank you for the soapbox and for beating back breast cancer awareness, which I sometimes feel can overshadow a lot of things…

  4. Sara F. Says:

    I am going to send this to my little sister, who is in a healthy, wonderful relationship right now, but has never dealt with or admitted that her previous relationship was abusive. She is a social worker also … no one is immune.
    Thanks Michelle ….

  5. Maria Says:

    This is so important and thank you for mentioning it. I grew up in a household where this was an everday thing, and believe me no one outside our house would have believed it….the abusers are great at making people think they are wonderful 🙁 anyway, dont want to go there 😉 I Hope you give someone courage to ask for help.

  6. elle Says:

    Thank you. My mom and I were both victims of domestic violence. Her as a wife and me as the child.

  7. Tricia Says:


    I applaud you. Thank you so much for discussing this dirty lil secret that many of us have experienced….

    NO ONE IS IMMUNE and the wounds may not always be visibile but the emotional ones never go away….


  8. Rhonda Says:

    Thank you for sharing all the information. I never realized to what degree my sister suffered through domestic violence with her marriage and thank GOD every day that we were able to get her out of the situation in one piece. She is doing great but there are always some emotional scars that never go away.

    Great post………….

  9. melissa :) Says:

    You go girl! Awesome post. Great reminder.

    My favorite saying is “you never know what goes on behind closed doors”. I know. I lived it.

    This is something everyone needs to be aware of. And everyone needs to know there is help. They just need to ask for it.

  10. JUlia Says:

    amazing post –
    so proud of you for this post –
    so many still trapped in the cylce need help

    thanking God I am not one of them-

    thanking God my kids aren’t either:)

  11. Samantha Says:

    i walked my self assured feminist, BA in women’s studies self into a (first) marriage where i was shoved into counters, shaken, yelled at, and eventually was the target of a projectile phone that hit a plate i was holding and cut my wrist (not badly thank god.) after i left (left, left) he apologized profusely that i “got in the way of the phone.” i would NEVER have thought i would be in that situation. it can happen to anyone, educated or not.

    thank you for your post and a reminder that there is help out there for those who are in it. reach out.

  12. Bobbi Says:

    Michelle, I had no idea that this was domestic violence awareness month. This needs to be made more note of. A few years ago, our best friends lost a friend of theirs to domestic violence. SHE stabbed HIM to death after years of abuse. Abuse that she has done time for since, but due to our wonderful justice system she did not serve time for murder, as she said it was self defense and he was abusing her. Also, she has been arrested three or more times since this for domestic violence against her newest victim, I mean partner. It is a sad, sad situation.

    You are right, it can happen in many forms, to anyone. I honestly hope my girls are never there, or my son either. It is scary.

    Thank you for opening up and sharing your own story. I am glad you were able to get out.

  13. Amy Says:

    Every 9 seconds.

    Fight the good fight.

    Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. Maria Robinson


  14. mama k Says:

    Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know it was this month, but I linked to this post today to spread the word.

  15. Dirkey Says:

    Thanks for sharing Michelle, so great that you put this out there.

  16. Karen O. Says:

    As a fellow social worker here is my personal thank you for sharing this information. Knowledge is power!

  17. JB Says:

    Thank you from another survivor.

  18. amy Says:

    This is a great post Michelle. I didn’t even know it was Domestic Violence Awareness month. It is overshadowed by Breast Cancer. (Ack – two great causes!)

    This is important information to have out there. I think educated women don’t realize what is happening until it’s already become “the norm.”

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