Raising Awareness

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By Emily Mathis

The first time he hit me I was so scared and shocked that I stayed. After that it was a continuous cycle of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse followed by guilt, blame, and manipulation to get me to stay. I left him after the third time. I am one of the lucky ones. I know that. Every day victims of domestic violence are seriously injured or even killed. According to some statistics, domestic violence is the number one cause of injury in women between the ages of 15-44. That’s more than car accidents, muggings and rape combined. Not to mention that according to the Domestic Violence Resource Center more than three women and one man are killed every day by domestic violence.

I was only 17 when it happened to me. I’m sure there were signs but at 17 how could I be expected to recognize them? Well maybe that’s where we start-with education. Teaching kids, teens, and young adults what is a healthy relationship and what an abusive relationship looks like is important. We need to be teaching everyone what to do if you find yourself in an abusive situation. I turned to my friends at the time. It was the blind leading the blind. But what if my friends had heard about what you do in these situations? Maybe I would have gotten help sooner than I did. There is no one to blame in these situations except for the perpetrator.

With 1 in 4 teenage girls assaulted by their boyfriends, it is time that we broaden our focus to include younger generations. If you stop it early it will be less likely to get to a critical point in the future. But along with teaching kids, teenagers and young adults, we need to be raising awareness among people of all walks of life because domestic violence knows no race, ethnicity, or class. This is one of our nation’s serious problems and it needs to be handled as such.

Here are some links if you or someone you know is in trouble or you just want more information:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Some local information:

Safehome

Rose Brooks

UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project