Books Worth Reading Series: Leslie Morgan Steiner on Domestic Violence

By: Aliah Fisher, Sophomore in Studio Arts

To some, October has been long and overdue. October is the month known for having locked in fall weather, the celebration of Halloween, and the awareness of breast cancer. However, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) which derives from the “Day of Unity” in 1981. The Day of Unity was created with the intent of celebrating survivors, those advocating against violence, and people who are mourning those who died from domestic violence. Over the course of six years, the Day of Unity transitioned into DVAM and was passed as a public law (101-112) in 1989.

Domestic violence does not discriminate against race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation. Practically anyone could be a possible victim. Men are fully capable of being domestic violence victims, but women are often the face of domestic violence because it happens to them more often.

The Warning Signs

Unfortunately, domestic violence seems to be an issue that will always be relevant because there is one than one type. It tends to happen in long-term, intimate relationships, and within families. When people think of domestic violence, physical abuse is probably the first thing that comes to mind. The word “violence” is within its name. Some forms of domestic violence can go unrecognized and disguised as something less serious. In this case that would be emotional abuse which often leads to domestic violence. Being sexually assaulted or manipulated is also a form of domestic abuse.

Some of you may wonder or worry if you are in a domestically violent situation or relationship while some of you may not be aware. A couple weeks ago I listened to a domestic violence survivor’s story on YouTube. Her name is Leslie Morgan Steiner. Steiner has a book named “Crazy Love” which tells her story and give advice on how to distinguish real love versus crazy love.

Steiner categorized herself as being a part of the “unaware”. While telling her story, she was able to put in order the steps and warning signs of domestic violence. Steiner met a very nice and charming man who she married in her twenties. He created an illusion that she was in charge of the relationship, believed in her goals, and was always interested in what was going on in her life. Steiner marked the abuser’s first step as being seducing or charming. The next step towards domestic violence is isolation out of comfort zone. Steiner was comfortable living in New York City and had her dream job, but when her abuser suggested that they move to England she agreed because she was deep in love. Not long after they moved to England, her abuser introduced a threat of violence when he purchased a gun. A threat of violence is the next step. The abuser may buy a new weapon or even attack for the first time and then study the victim’s reaction. Without the proper reaction from the victim, the abuser continues to act out more. This is what happened to Steiner. Her abuser often attacked her, beat her, and then apologized for it. This went on during their marriage for two years before she left.

The Truth

Some people wonder why the victims don’t leave after being assaulted whether it is physically or emotionally. To Steiner, she believes that is a sad thing to say to a victim, and I agree. Victims are typically afraid of leaving because they are scared. The psychological abuse that they undergo effects them for years. It takes years for them to build trust for people and their relationships. Many of them are afraid that the abuser will kill them. It is a known fact that many domestic abusers have similar thoughts as a murderer. Some people are actually murdered by their abusers. Victims also go through damage after surviving the violent relationships. Grisly headlines, self-destructive behavior, and negative labels are battles of a victim’s aftermath. So, why victims choose to stay is not a considerate thing to say because it is code for saying, “it’s their fault”. And we all know, it’s not.

The real question is, “Why does the abuser attack?”

If you need help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or TTY 1-800-787-3224 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE) or call 911.