The domestic violence you don't see

Guest Editorial

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In the past year, two domestic violence-related hashtags have made a huge impact on social media. One in the summer of 2015 began close to home for us.

A young Sioux Falls woman was physically assaulted by her boyfriend while she was driving. She later asked a friend, who was a photographer, to do a photo shoot showing her black eyes and bruising. After posting her photos and story online, #SilenceHidesViolence went viral and spread worldwide, leading USA Today to publish her story.

Victims are often taught to be ashamed and feel guilty about what’s happening to them. We rarely know what is really happening behind our neighbors’ closed doors and white picket fences. This is the silence that violence hides behind.

If someone confides in you about violence happening in their life, don’t judge them. Believe them, support their decisions, and tell them they deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and love.

More recently the movement, #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou, has gone viral as well and become a national awareness campaign.

Thousands of women and men have posted using that hashtag on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter showing that domestic violence isn’t always physical and doesn’t always leave a mark.  Messages such as #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou but he’s punched enough walls to make you wonder if you’re next; #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou but he makes you believe you’re worthless and no one else would ever want you; #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou but you wonder if it would hurt less if he actually did; #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou but he says he will kill himself if he doesn’t always have you; #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou but he treats you like his property; and #MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou anymore but he makes sure you know he still could.

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault and/or other abusive behavior used as a pattern of power and control by one partner over the other.  It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats and emotional or psychological abuse.

Every nine seconds a woman in the U.S. is assaulted or beaten.

In 2015 at least 22 Minnesota women were murdered in domestic violence situations. Many of them had tried to leave their partner several times.  Other victims stay because they are financially dependent or are attached to the abuser and believe he will change. Domestic violence victims have wounds and scars we can’t see.

Please show your support by joining us on Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Farmers Market in Luverne for Domestic Violence Awareness Night from 4 to 7 p.m.

There will be dance performances starting at 6 p.m. by young women from Spotlight Dance and Performing Arts Academy.

Stop by the Southwest Crisis Center table for free information and candy.

#MaybeHeDoesn’tHitYou but if he’s controlling and using other abusive tactics the Southwest Crisis Center can help. Visit our Luverne office at 114 W. Main St., our website mnswcc.org or call our 24-hour safeline at 1-800-376-4311.

 

Jen Lindsey serves as an advocate in Rock County at the Southwest Crisis Center Luverne location.

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