By Barbara Alvarez
You’re all about respect – self-respect, showing respect to others and expecting others show respect toward you. When it doesn't happen, you may feel disillusioned and wary about the person who disrespected you.
When it comes to someone treating you badly, however, do you know how to recognize it? When s/he tells you “You’re worthless. You’re a slut. You cheated on me,” do you recognize that as emotional and verbal abuse? Did you know that emotional/verbal abuse falls under the umbrella of domestic violence? Domestic violence isn't delivered at the end of a closed fist or a knife wielded in your partner’s hand.
|Photo by Phoney Nickle. Used under Creative Commons License|
Verbal and emotional abuse tear you down just as badly as that black eye, the bruises and the long cut on your arm will do. The difference is that, with one form of violence, nobody else sees the marks and scars. But you know they are there.
Eventually, you begin to doubt yourself. You begin to believe that you’re stupid, worthless and a slut. You may be nervous around your partner, trying to keep him or her from lashing out with hateful, confidence-destroying words.
Then there’s the physical violence. Did you know that it takes, on average, seven incidents of domestic violence before a victim leaves her abuser? And, when you don’t know how you’re going to survive financially, you may not believe you have any other choice but to go back. There’s another consideration: Victims undergo progressively worse attacks as time goes on – and one of these attacks could end in her death, or that of one of her children.
Sexual abuse – rape – also falls under the domestic violence umbrella. You may believe that, when s/he demands sex, you have no choice but to comply, even if you don’t feel like it. That is wrong. If you don’t feel like it, then being expected to “perform” is rape. It’s a crime, no matter whether you have bruises and cuts or not.
|Photo by flickr.com/jesjon87. Used under a Creative Commons License|
You deserve better. If you know someone experiencing one of these forms of relationship violence, she deserves better. You do have resources available in your community. Call the police or sheriff’s department when you are being assaulted. Find someone you know you can trust and tell them what’s happening to you. Eventually, you’ll need to escape. Find a close friend who will allow you to stay with her for a few days while you think about your future. Most communities have a domestic violence shelter. Law enforcement can give you the number and, if needed, take you there. Because of the high risk of danger to the residents, the location of this shelter is kept secret.
Call the National Domestic Violence hotline. That number is 1-800-799-7233. The TTY number is 1-800-787-3224. You’ll be able to get guidance to needed resources as well as learn just what domestic violence is, how it looks and how it affects you. You’ll also learn about the cycle of violence.
Remember, you are worthy of respect and love. If you are in the middle of an intimate relationship that has become violent, you deserve better. To take a quote from Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help,” You is smart, you is kind, you is important.
Barbara Alvarez earned her journalism and mass communications degree in December, 2006 and has been writing professionally since that time.
Alvarez has written and self-published two books, one non-fiction and one fiction. The non-fiction is intended for a military spouse niche. This book is written under a pen name: Diana M. Lopez.
The fiction is intended for anyone who loves to read about strong men and stronger women who
confront conflict even as they learn to adjust their beliefs about relationships and love.
Alvarez plans to write until she is very old – it is in her blood, along with crochet and cross stitch. She
is the mother of two grown sons.
You can keep up with Barbara at her website, or follow her on Facebook. Of course you can also keep an eye out here for more of her work on I Feel Delicious!