Domestic violence awareness month

She said the wrong thing.

He punched a hole in the bedroom door.

Things progressed from there over time. When she tried to talk about issues in which he might have some ownership he blew up so she was careful about the topics she brought up. He might make fun of something she did or said, and when she was hurt or angry, he told her he was just teasing and she was over-reacting. When he flirted with other women she was imagining things. When she had personal needs he told her there was no money. She would have to do without. And his words could shut her down instantly.

She hated herself for being such a failure. She felt numb most of the time. She hated being financially dependent on him. No matter what she did or said, she was wrong. She feared she would push him over an edge if she said too much. She was at his mercy and that made her afraid.

She hesitated to join in conversations because he negated what she said and made her feel insignificant and small. She no longer let him see her vulnerabilities because that would trigger emotional abuses. Unless she was crazy. Was she crazy? Was she over-reacting? Would he convince their children to turn against her?

There was no way that she could make it on her own. The thing was, he could be a really nice person … until he blew up again. Much of the time it seemed like she was married to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

“You know he is going to turn on you one day, don’t you?” asked her friend. She shuddered.

The signs were there for her, as they are for anyone who lives in the domestic violence environment. However, it is very easy to convince yourself that you are “blowing things out of proportion,” “making a mountain out of a molehill.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline lists reasons why someone may stay in an abusive relationship, including fear of what may happen, embarrassment or shame, low self-esteem. They may love the person and just want the violence to stop. Lack of money and resources is a problem for many victims as are their cultural or religious beliefs.

Teens are at greatest risk for relationship abuse than any other age group, advises the hotline.

In Columbiana County, Christina House in Lisbon helps those trying to cope with domestic violence and can provide emergency shelter for those escaping their abusers. For more information, call the Christina House Hotline, 330-420-0036. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.

According to a 2014 report at www.domesticshelters.org, one in four women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence. Nearly one in five of murder victims were killed by an intimate partner, two out of three of those murder victims were women. Most cases of domestic violence are not reported to police. Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness. Exposure to domestic violence in childhood increases the risk of domestic violence in adulthood. Annually, approximately 3.3 million children witness violence against their mothers or female caretakers by a family member.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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