Let’s Talk About Black Eyes and Bruises
This weekend I finally got around to watching the most recent episode of Glee. To be honest, I skipped over some parts because the songs weren’t my thing, but I didn’t skip the parts about Coach Beast and her experience as an abused spouse. I hope no one skipped those parts, because it’s a problem we too often shy away from. We don’t want to think about it and we certainly don’t want to think we, or people we love, could possibly be victims of domestic violence. But oh we can and the effects can linger for a very long time. How do I know that? I’m not someone whose husband has ever hit her, but I when I was a teenager it was a BIG part of my home life. My stepfather violently attacked my mother on many occasions. She lived in fear, always concerned that a wrong word, a misstep, a forgotten chore, could be the start of another attack. I will never forget the tension and the anxiety that I experienced living in that home, even though the violence was technically never directed at me. I was old enough to know it wasn’t okay to live like that. I was aware enough to try and get her to leave, but at the end of the day I was a kid too. I didn’t understand the emotional and financial pressures that can make it so difficult for a woman to leave an abusive situation. Or if they leave, make them return hoping and praying that finally he has changed. I remember being embarrassed and wondering what would happen to me if I tried to get us help. I remember having the police come to my work at 11’oclock at night and having to take my mom to a friend’s house to sleep so we could be safe. I remember running with her down the icy driveway, not properly dressed for the cold winter night, to a neighbor’s house to call for help. I remember seeing her with too many bruises.
I actually convinced my mom to leave her husband when I was 18. We moved away together and I helped pay the bills and became her roommate instead of simply her daughter. Unfortunately that only lasted for a couple of years and she went back to him. And for a while it seemed better. In fact, as proof of how easy it can be for a perpetrator to convince the world of how “normal” they are, and how they can look just like that guy next door, or your teacher or your banker or your mother’s husband, we actually bought his new and improved version to the extent that my middle son’s middle name is after that awful man. What was I thinking?
My mother moved in with my family a year and a half ago. Because she left him again, thank goodness. And while this is only my opinion, on my blog, and you might disagree, people who hit, usually keep hitting. Maybe they stop while life is going their way. Maybe they seem to have it under control, but if they haven’t gotten some serious help they probably are going to turn violent again someday. And I’ll tell you, leaving is harder than most of us can imagine. Because people who are truly violent don’t magically leave you alone when you leave. We had to involve the police last year when she moved in, because there were horrible harrassing phone calls and we were truly afraid he might come here and hurt her, and to hell with anyone who gets caught in the middle. Thankfully that didn’t happen (he lives far, far away for the time being and hopefully never comes back to the area). But the fear isn’t gone, and probably won’t be as long as he lives. It’s not fair, but bad people can color your life forever, can’t they?
It’s hard for me to talk about domestic abuse. And I think it’s hard for a lot of people to acknowledge, but we have to talk about it. And actually, while I’m glad Glee addressed it the way they did, I hope they can go further or provide some good information somewhere for teenagers like me who even if they know something is wrong, don’t know where to turn for help. For my part, here are some places to go for information or guidance. If you are suffering abuse, domestic, partner, parental, ANYTHING, please don’t suffer alone. Get help and don’t wait one minute longer.
WomensLaw.org (has lists of shelters by state)
Violence Unsilenced Resource List