When you were young, maybe before you ever even started dating, you might have spent some time thinking about what your life would be like when you first found romantic love. As a 12-year-old youngster, you probably didn’t imagine it as anything other than idyllic — someday you would find someone to love, and they would love you back. Life, at that point, would be like a fairy tale. At least, that’s what books, movies, and television shows have been telling us since forever.
And in the age of social media, where it is so easy to compare ourselves to others based on the filtered images and stories we see and hear, we now place even higher expectations on ourselves. Talking about our struggles when life is not going so well has also become much more difficult.
So consider for a moment that your life is anything but a story book. The perfect partner you thought you’d found had become increasingly abusive. It didn’t start that way — in fact, you’re not sure when it started. When you first met your partner, they were nothing but kind, attentive, and loving. In the beginning, this felt like devotion and affection. But over time, things changed. Of course, you love this person and you want to try and make things work.
Maybe you think he or she isn’t that bad. This person has never hit you, or if they did, maybe you believe you deserved it. Maybe this person promised to fix things, to get better, or even to seek help.
At what point do you feel comfortable, or even justified, to talk about or report abuse from an intimate partner?
Despite what your partner has put you through, you still love them. You might have kids together. You have all the same friends, and maybe you met most of them through your abuser. Just because someone is violent and manipulative doesn’t mean they’re not charismatic, fun to be around, and generally well respected by others.
At what point do you feel comfortable, or even justified, to talk about or report abuse from an intimate partner? You still want your relationship to be that fairy tale you dreamed of. You might be worried your friends and family won’t believe you — or worse, that they won’t stand by your side. You might not want people to know that your life is anything less than perfect. You might be scared that by leaving the person you love, you’ll be the one to blame for ending the relationship.
For all of these reasons and more, victims, survivors, and advocates across the country are speaking out for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. Taking a stand against domestic violence is more than just a symbolic action. It shows support for victims and survivors of abuse, and in some cases, can give victims the courage they need to come forward. So often, those who require the most help never seek it out. And if they don’t speak up, no one might ever know what has been happening to them behind closed doors.
Victims of domestic abuse often face financial ruin, physical harm, and isolation from friends and family if they attempt to leave an abusive relationship. And maybe they don’t see themselves as victims at all but rather the cause. Most abusers tend to blame their victims, making them feel responsible for the violence.
Please join DOVE Center during the month of October in taking your own stand against domestic violence, because you never know who could be listening. Help support victims and survivors of domestic abuse so that we can make every home in our community a safe one.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, please reach out for safe, confidential support through DOVE’s 24-hour helpline: (435) 628-0458. For more information on the warning signs of domestic violence or to find out how you can support DOVE, please visit dovecenter.org.