Be Aware & Take Action to Help Victims of Domestic Violence
*The content shared may be difficult for some readers. But, here at Our Community Now, we believe it’s worth telling.*
I was walking through the garage in my downtown Denver apartment when I heard screaming and yelling between a man and a woman one floor above.
"STOP IT, YOU'RE HURTING ME!"
Despite the fact that I was only armed with gym clothes and a few bobby pins, I made my way toward the stairwell and eavesdropped on the fracas. I heard her coming down the stairs, suitcase in tow, and when she came closer I asked if she was alright and if she needed to come with me. She told me she was going home and to stay away from a specific unit. I then ran to my apartment, locked the door, and called the police. There was no way I was going to bed without reporting this to the police in order to have something on record. I don't care that their situation had nothing to do with me, because I heard and saw the situation, I acted on it. There are laws that require drivers to pull over to stop and render aid for motorists involved in an accident, why isn't there a law for situations like this?
I have no idea what happened to that young woman, but I hope and pray she is safe and happy. Unfortunately, there are many men and women who live in the private hell of domestic violence and they have little means or guidance to break the cycle of abuse. Earlier this year, an abused woman was able to get out of her situation by convincing her armed and violent boyfriend that her dog needed to go to the vet. There, she took the opportunity to slip a note to the veterinarian staff that she needed the police. They acted on her behalf and he was subsequently arrested.
But so many abuse victims aren't so lucky. It's been reported that over half of female homicide victims were murdered by an intimate partner. According to statistics from the Department of Justice, 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner each year. Another statistic estimates that every nine seconds a woman is beaten or assaulted by a current or former partner. Restraining orders are a proper course of action in order to get violent behavior on record, but they are nothing more than a piece of paper.
There are means one can take to ensure personal safety, be it self-defense training, contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline, or through the use of a firearm. Oftentimes we wait until something bad happens to purchase a gun, but shooting ranges encourage doing the opposite by owning and properly educating yourself on firearm use, should you choose to do so. Many ranges offer ladies-only training classes to address areas of concern related to women in a safe, empowering, and welcoming environment.
So what can those who aren't involved in a domestic violence situation do for those that are? The National Domestic Violence Hotline published resources for those who are concerned about the welfare of a friend or family member who may be involved in an abusive relationship and provided a list of warning signs that point to a serious issue:
- Their partner puts them down in front of other people
- They are constantly worried about making their partner angry
- They make excuses for their partner’s behavior
- Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive
- They have unexplained marks or injuries
- They’ve stopped spending time with friends and family
- They are depressed or anxious, or you notice changes in their personality
Let your loved one know that you are always there for them and if you witness a violent act, don't hesitate to contact law enforcement. If they need a place to go if events escalate, provide a safe space for them to stay or know where a reputable shelter is located. Encourage a visit with a counselor or religious leader who can also provide connections to care. Like any good friend or family member, provide a listening, non-judgemental ear for them to confide in. Remind them that the abuse is not their fault. Be the friend you would want to have if you were in this situation.
There shouldn't just be one month dedicated to domestic violence awareness, there needs to be a constant dialogue. If you see it happening, don't be afraid to say or do something to help the victim escape. Your actions could help break a cycle and be the one saving grace for an individual in need.