Showing Strength: Getting Help If You Are A Victim Of Abuse

by Dana on March 31, 2010

I have had a post percolating in my head for a week or so now because I saw a promotion for a General Hospital storyline that deals with abusive relationships in teens. The levels of violence between young couples is escalating at alarming rates. The statistics are unsettling enough that I don’t want to go into them here but should you want more information about teens and abuse, you can start here.

While my towels are not meant for the younger set, the sentiment behind them is meant for everyone – girls, boys, women, and men. This month’s mantra: “Strength. Compassion. Peace.” applies to everyone and taking the first step to seek help if you are in abusive relationship is strength personified.

I was sadly reminded of this over the weekend when I witnessed a very upsetting event in the car behind me. It was the screeching of tires that first got my attention but it was the man swerving his car violently on purpose while yelling at the young woman next to him that had me sick to my stomach.

We arrived at the red light at the same time and her window was cracked open just slightly. While I couldn’t hear the exact words, I was wincing in anticipation because his anger was palpable even a car-length away. I sat there not knowing what I could do to help this woman. So when the light turned green, I continued driving to my destination while also keeping an eye on his car both to keep myself safe, but also to see if what I had seen was a momentary exchange as opposed to a pattern of behavior.

Unfortunately, he continued to drive enraged; continued to apply the breaks and shake the car in an effort to intimidate this woman while he yelled at her. He was far enough behind me, however, that I couldn’t get a read on his license plate. At the next light, I needed to turn and didn’t know which direction he intended to go – but when I saw him pull into the turn lane, I vowed to slow down and get the plate if he ran what would be a red light by the time he got to it, which he did. And because of his erratic driving, he gave me a clear view of his license plate which I repeated to myself over and over again until I could pull over, write it down, and call 911.

He turned down a residential street and I pulled over and dialed 911 while I sat there shaking, trying not to think of how much worse his behavior would get now that they weren’t on a main thoroughfare.

If just witnessing this event had me shaking, I can only imagine how frightened and helpless this young woman felt. I was, and still am, haunted by the fact that many people talk about how the car is a great place to get your kids talking to you about difficult topics because you don’t have to look at each other, and they are a captive audience. To see that idea turned on its head is disturbing. This woman was a captive audience – to his anger, to his recklessness, and to whatever else he needed to do to release his rage.

While I don’t know if the police were able to find him, I am hopeful that this woman finds the strength to take care of herself and anyone else in her family who might fall prey to this man. Should she find that strength, I am confident that she will find compassion from those ready to assist her, and only then will she find peace.

If you are a victim of abuse, the below are just several organizations able to help you:

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1 Carole LaRochelle April 5, 2010 at 12:24 AM

Thank you for writing this post and sharing it with us. I’m pleased you were able to calm yourself enough to figure out the right thing to do. The sad thing is on average a woman will leave an abusive relationship seven times before she leaves for good. The connection between abuser and victim is very strong and mostly unconscious. Here are some more statistics on domestic violence.

* One out of every three women will be abused at some point in her life.
* Battering is the single major cause of injury to women, exceeding rapes, muggings and auto accidents combined.
* A woman is more likely to be killed by a male partner (or former partner) than any other person.
* About 4,000 women die each year due to domestic violence.
* Of the total domestic violence homicides, about 75% of the victims were killed as they attempted to leave the relationship or after the relationship had ended.
* Seventy-three percent of male abusers were abused as children.
* Thirty percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband in the past year.
* Women of all races are equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner.
* On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or partners in this country every day.
* Intimate partner violence a crime that largely affects women. In 1999, women accounted for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence.
* On average, a woman will leave an abusive relationship seven times before she leaves for good.
* Approximately 75% of women who are killed by their batterers are murdered when they attempt to leave or after they have left an abusive relationship.

There is a wonderful program in Oakland called Impact Bay Area that teaches empowerment and self-defense for women, starting with the ability to say “no” and “stop” before a situation has the chance to escalate. Here is their website: http://www.impactbayarea.org/

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