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October: Recognize domestic violence

“Callie” paced the floor. Her mother had left her in charge of her siblings while she hid the family car. Callie worried that her mother would not get home before her father, that she would have to face him and deal with his anger. And he would be angry.

Her mother did not arrive home before her father. Callie saw him coming and pushed her siblings behind her. She stood facing the door when her dad came through it.

“Where is your mother?” His eyes were cold and the fury inside him barely contained.

“I don’t know.” Mom had said he would ask and she had refused to tell Callie where she was going, saying only that if he wanted to run off with that other woman he could go.

“You’re a liar.”

Her father’s accusation stung. She had never lied to her father. Ever. He went on through the house. She pushed the younger children out the door with the command to run to a safe place down the street until Mom came home. But the children didn’t understand. When their father transformed to a friendly, fatherly, public image, calling to them to come back because he loved them, they went home. If she was to protect them as she had been told to do … She went home, too.

As soon as the door closed behind him, their father’s demeanor changed. He held them hostage. The price on their heads: the car. When Mom got home there was a terrible fight in the front yard, but Callie and her siblings escaped. Less than two hours later they were taken by a family friend to a safe place for the night. They were secreted a way with only what they were wearing. And the family friend paid for the room. When her mother protested he told her many a woman had insisted her man wouldn’t hurt her and died at his hand. It was better to be safe than sorry. Go, everyone could cool down, and come back home tomorrow.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month across the country. Domestic violence can happen to anyone. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), in the United States nearly half of the population of men and women – 47 percent – will experience psychological aggression from an intimate partner sometime in their lifetime. These forms of aggression include things like bullying, intimidation, gaslighting, and narcissist behaviors. You should learn about such terms and what they are so you will recognize them when you see them. Domestic violence is not just physical abuse.

Domestic violence destroys families, the very bedrock of society, seriously damaging lives and relationships. Home should be a haven from life’s storms, a place of love, warmth, respect and support. But the fabric of the family is torn when violence erupts and trust is so sorely violated. More women (23 percent) than men (14 percent) will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

“The #1 thing that will end domestic violence is our collective power. Research shows that people’s involvement in community organizations strengthens the community,” advises the Administration of Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “It can help improve the quality of the physical setting, enhance services, prevent crime, and improve social conditions.”

If you are a victim of domestic violence, there is help through Christina House in Lisbon, 330-420-0036. To reach the Help Network Hotline, dial 211.

What can you do to help stop domestic violence?

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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