October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. I thought it might be a good idea to just review some facts regarding domestic violence and offer some help for those who are in the midst of the battle. At Legacy Counseling Service in Tulsa, we counsel people who are healing from the wound of domestic violence. Domestic violence can affect anyone, and the mental manipulation that occurs can make it difficult to know if “it’s really that bad.” People who are victims of domestic violence may feel isolated, alone, ashamed, or responsible for the situation. If you are in a domestic violence situation, you need to know that you are not alone and that you are not responsible for someone else’s behavior.
Women’s Advocates defines domestic violence as “a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, economic class, immigration status, religion, or gender. It can happen to couples that are married, living together, or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.” 1
If you are in a relationship where your partner uses physical or mental abuse to maintain control over you, you need to talk to someone about what is going on. We know it can be hard, embarrassing, and/or shameful to open up about this type of secret. But acknowledging what is happening is the first step in figuring out what to do to keep you and your loved ones safe, both physically and emotionally. Call one of the domestic violence hotlines listed below and talk to an advocate, or reach out to a friend, family member, pastor, or counselor and tell them your story. They can help you determine what your next step should be. You are not to blame for the behavior of your loved one or significant other, and you are not responsible for their behavior. You do not have to stay in an abusive relationship. If you suspect someone you know is in an abusive situation, take action. Reach out to them and offer to stand with them as they strive for freedom. Women’s Advocates (located in Minnesota) offer the following hotline available 24 hours: Toll-Free line at 1-866-223-1111. In Tulsa, DVIS (Domestic Violence Intervention Services) has the following hot-line available: 918.7HELP.ME (918.743.5763). You can also call the National Domestic Violence line at 1-800-799-7233.
The First Step
The first step in freeing yourself from an abusive relationship is to acknowledge you are in that situation. Next, you need to make that call to a hotline or let a trusted friend or mental health provider know about the abuse. Then, you need to make a plan on how to leave the situation in a way that is safe for you and any children you have. Leaving is not an easy thing, and may be dangerous, so make sure you create a plan with a DVIS counselor or someone else who has counseled people around issues domestic violence issues. Once you have freed yourself from the abusive situation, you may need help working through the emotional trauma of having been in an abusive relationship. If you need counseling, Legacy Counseling Service (www.legacycounselingservice.com) has mental health therapists who can help you heal and create a new, and safe life free from domestic violence.
1(Women’s Advocates, n.d.)