Today, October 14th, while speaking at a private awareness camp for women and girls; stories were share about potentially harmful dating scenarios. As the conversation began to focus more on why we were all meeting (to discuss domestic violence) I began to hear women speak about their reasoning and tolerance for domestic violence. “He didn’t hit me that hard”, “It was not big deal, I just punched him back in his face”, “He only hit me four times”, And the one that tore my heart apart, “Well, he didn’t like bust my lip or anything like that-He just choked me.” Domestic violence does not discriminate. It’s not something that just plaque one community. Although some cultures and house holes handle it differently. Some people view violence differently and they put a meter on it.
This is why it is absolutely necessary to bring and to continue to bring awareness to domestic violence. It exist and we are ignoring it or pretending it is not what it is. It is abuse period, no matter how hard the hit was. No matter if blood was drawn. I have to attest to the ways people view violence as well. I’ve experienced run-ins with Harris County Sheriff Department where I too was told, they usually gage a situation by if they see blood or not. That was sad to hear, especially from a woman on the police force. While we teach and educate about domestic violence, we need to protect our sisters, mothers and daughters by bringing a constant awareness, so that together we can find tools and resources available in the community that will assist in bringing an end to domestic violence. Today’s program was just a start. In hearing everyone share their story, it was an emotional as well as educational seminar.
Bringing awareness to domestic violence can sometimes materialize through a personal story shared by someone close to you, such as family member or friend; someone you just met and are getting to know or even a total stranger. For some, it’s hard to believe and for others it’s hard to acknowledge. Domestic violence is often times seen portrayed on lifetime television shows or programming such as snapped will depict situations where domestic violence was present. While it’s glamourized or downplayed in some instances by jokes and comedians; it’s no joking matter when you have actually experienced it for yourself.
The Houston Area Women’s Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence. They released these statistics today:
Last year, 191,301 hotline calls in the entire state of Texas were answered. Nearly 42,000 of the calls were answered by the Houston Area Women’s Center (TCFV, 2013).
In Harris County, there were 38,490 incidents of domestic violence reported. Thirty Harris County women were killed as a result of domestic violence (Texas DPS, 2013; TCFV, 2013).
One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime. Most victims are between 30 and 39 years old (TCFV/NNEDV).
Last year, the Houston Area Women’s Center Shelter opened its doors for 1,254 women and 887 children seeking refuge from violence.
“Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over his or her partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, economic, or spiritual and includes any actions or threats of actions that are used to influence another person. Most victims are women.” (www.hawc.org)
October is a time for the community to come together and build awareness and a movement towards safe and healthy relationships for all individuals and families. Domestic violence touches every person in our community and society as a whole; and violates a person’s dignity, safety, and basic human rights. Stand up as a champion for survivors and join the movement.