(A Must Read for ANYONE Who Has a Woman In Their Life)

“Homicide is a leading cause of death during pregnancy and the postpartum period in the United States. Pregnancy and the postpartum period are times of elevated risk for homicide among all females of reproductive age.” This is the conclusion of a study published by the National Library of Medicine, and honestly, it is quite shocking. 

Regularly, we are told of the risks during pregnancy. 

Risks of:

  • Not eating healthy
  • Using drugs or alcohol
  • Disease
  • Developmental concerns
  • And more

Fear can take over during any pregnancy yet there is a group of us that do not have the luxury of worrying about these ‘normal’ concerns. We are fighting for our lives in a way that most will never know or understand.  Rarely are we ever told that statistically, homicide is the leading cause of death for new moms. Rarely are we given the information we need to recognize if we are in a potentially harmful situation. The Office of Women’s Health shares that “you may be experiencing domestic violence if your partner:

  • Controls what you’re doing
  • Checks your phone, email, or social networks without your permission
  • Forces you to have sex when you don’t want to
  • Controls your birth control or insists that you get pregnant
  • Decides what you wear or eat or how you spend money
  • Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school or seeing your family or friends
  • Humiliates you on purpose in front of others
  • Unfairly accuses you of being unfaithful
  • Destroys your things
  • Threatens to hurt you, your children, other loved ones, or your pets
  • Hurts you physically (e.g., hitting, beating, punching, pushing, kicking), including with a weapon
  • Blames you for his or her violent outbursts
  • Threatens to hurt herself or himself because of being upset with you
  • Threatens to report you to the authorities for imagined crimes
  • Says things like, “If I can’t have you, then no one can”

They also add that in addition to these actions, people in same-sex relationships may also experience:

  • Threatening to “out you” to your family, friends, employer, or community
  • Telling you that you have to be legally married to be considered a victim of domestic violence and to get help
  • Saying women aren’t or can’t be violent
  • Telling you the authorities won’t help a lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or other nonconforming person
  • Forcing you to “prove” your sexuality by performing sex acts that you do not consent to

What can you do if you are being abused? CALL 911 IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER! 

If you are not in immediate danger, consider these options:

  • Get medical care. If you have been injured or sexually assaulted, go to a local hospital emergency room or urgent care center. You need medical care and may need medicines after being injured or raped.
  • Call a helpline for free, anonymous help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline offers help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in many languages. Hotline staff can give you numbers for other resources, such as local domestic violence shelters. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, there are resources available for you . The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has a hotline to help LGBTQ victims of violence. Call 212-714-1141 for 24-hour support in English or Spanish.
  • Make a safety plan to leave. Domestic violence usually does not get better. Think about a safe place for you to go and other things you will need. Staff at the National Domestic Violence Hotline can help you plan.
  • Save the evidence. Keep evidence of abuse, such as pictures of your injuries or threatening emails or texts, in a safe place the abuser cannot get to.
  • Find out where to get help in your community. Look up local resources for a list of local places to get help.
  • Talk to someone. Reach out to someone you trust. This might be a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or a spiritual leader. Look for ways to get emotional help, like a support group or mental health professional.
  • Look into a restraining order. Consider getting a protection order.

Local Resources (in or around Upshur County, TX)

Please understand that the safety of you and your child is the absolute most crucial thing to focus on right now. For most people in an abusive situation, there are many reasons swirling around in their heads about why they should not or can not ask for help. The bravest thing you can do is seek help despite those thoughts and fears.

Some reasons we stay in an abusive relationship:

  • There is a real fear that the abuser will use violence that is lethal if the victim decides to leave.
  • Some women simply have family members or friends that don’t support their decision.
  • Women may look to the hardships of single parenting and the financial strain that can take place, which is another setback.
  • At times, victims may be uneducated and unaware of the help and support that they could be getting.
  • The victim may experience a confusion of emotions because of good memories mixed with bad ones with the abusive individual.
  • There is also the fear of their children being hurt or killed by the abuser, or that they might lose custody of their children.
  • If the victim doesn’t have any way of taking care of themselves, whether it’s with a job, cash tucked away, a bank account, or assets.
  • Some victims feel that they have nowhere to turn to in order to find help.
  • Due to their beliefs or religion, they may feel that they cannot divorce their spouse.
  • Afraid that they and their children could end up homeless.
  • There might also be the false assumption that a household with two parents is better than one, even if domestic violence is present.

(www.domesticviolence.org)

I want to clear up one lie that we often tell ourselves. NO ONE WILL HELP.

If you find yourself believing that no one will care enough or will want to help, I need you to know THAT IS A LIE. The people in your immediate circle may be so accustomed to situations like these that they do not recognize the true danger. Or perhaps it is so far from what they are used to that they think it is not as bad as it seems. If this is the case, GET OUTSIDE YOUR CIRCLE! I promise you there ARE people who care. You may have to search or try more than once, or even twice, to find them BUT THEY ARE THERE!  If you experience someone on a hotline or at an agency that doesn’t respond kindly…then try the next one! And keep trying until you find the right one! One person’s poor response does not change your worth! 

Now. If you want to hear some hard truths from a real experience, you can read them below. I have a family I am close to who have gone through the experience of domestic abuse. I messaged the woman who was abused and her mother separately to get their responses to the question: What is your #1 piece of advice to someone experiencing domestic abuse? Not knowing the other had even been asked, they both had similar responses.

The woman (in her 20s) who experienced abuse:

MAKE A PLAN TO GET OUT!

And when you do leave, force yourself to sit and remember the violence. Our brain does this thing where once we are removed from the traumatic environment, it tries to suppress any memories of violence and pulls positive memories to the front. It’s a self-preservation thing in an attempt to keep you happy. But it’s also how so many abuse victims return to their abusers. You HAVE to force yourself to remember the abuse and then ask yourself, is that the environment your child deserves?

Mom of the daughter who experienced abuse:

LEAVE AND DO NOT GO BACK!

All the promises in the world can not make up for the fact that while it MIGHT be better for a while, GOING BACK GIVES THEM MORE POWER! It gives them a reason to feel justified in being more controlling, more paranoid, and feel they will need to use MORE FORCE next time.

MAKE YOUR PLAN AND LEAVE FOR GOOD!

I pray this helps drive home the seriousness of making a plan and seeing it through. And if somewhere in the back of your mind you are thinking “I love them and don’t want to lose them”, I want to leave you with two thoughts:

  1. Abuse and love cannot coexist. They are the opposite of each other. They may say they love you…but, again, abuse and love cannot coexist.
  2. Someone who is truly working on getting better can and will seek help while you get yourself and your child/children to a safe situation. They will understand that no contact is necessary until a professional states otherwise. If your partner refuses any of these steps, it is safe to assume that true change is not their priority, and you should NOT consider returning at any cost.

You ARE capable of making a change, and you are WORTH a safe environment!