Domestic violence is closer than you think

Two days ago, it was Purple Thursday as part of October Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the United States. In Canada, on Oct. 20, the Canadian Royal Purple Association recognized the first annual Purple Thursday noting “the intersection of interpersonal violence and brain injuries.” I wore purple on Oct 20, and I’ll tell you why.

Even writing this, I’m not sure where to start, other than to say that I am a victim/survivor of domestic violence. I’m not looking for pity with this statement. I just want more women to know that they are not alone, that they deserve and can set healthy boundaries, and that they can get out, when/if they are ready.

As defined by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV): “Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behaviour.” They list five types of abuse, including: physical, emotional/psychological, economic, stalking and harassment, and sexual. Sadly, I’ve endured all but one of these to different extents, by different men, throughout my life. Yes, there have been good men in my life as well, but this is not about them.

I’ve only ever had to talk to police twice though, over concerning threats, including once this month. I learned what a no-contact order is. Basically, you call the police and explain the situation and then they inform the individual that they will be charged with criminal harassment if they attempt to contact you again. (In fact, my ‘gentleman’ has multiple no-contact orders against him from multiple women in the city, and he was arrested and released with a pending court date for violating one of the no contact orders and for threats among other things.)

This sentence on the CCADV website caught my eye: “Victims are left feeling scared, confused, dependent and insecure.” One moment, I’m scared of the threats. Then, I’m laughing at the stories he’s telling, then I get frustrated and confused at how he’s made some people believe his lies about me. Then, I’m crying from the embarrassment of getting involved with him. Next, I’m in denial that this has become my life. There were even moments where I thought that I didn’t deserve better, but thankfully I’m through those feelings.

Perhaps you remember my article on the ‘default to truth’?  When you’re a good person and you don’t make a habit of lying, you tend to believe what others say. Yes, in hindsight there were red flags, but I didn’t have the facts to overcome how masterfully he’d explain away anything odd that I questioned. Sometimes we’re not ready to listen; we don’t question the lies so that our lives don’t explode.

Then, someone close to him opened the can; and now there were worms, and lies, and other women, everywhere. None of us knew that we were effectively part of a harem. Ironically, he would accuse me of cheating frequently.

Even with the sting of betrayal, I literally wished him, his mother, and at least one of his girlfriends peace and happiness before stating that he should never contact me again.

I don’t want to change my good nature, but I am now keenly aware of the ‘power & control wheel.’ It details the following tactics used by abusers to maintain power and control, including: coercion and threats, emotional abuse, isolation, minimizing, denying, and blaming, using children, male privilege, and economic abuse. I also consulted the stages of the cycle of abuse, which includes cycles of the honeymoon stage, tension building, and the explosion. In some models there is a calm or reconciliation phase as well, others build those into one side or the other of the honeymoon stage.

The pandemic added stress to already charged domestic situations and there was a reported spike in domestic crisis calls. You are probably close to someone experiencing one or more forms of domestic violence right now. Consider wearing purple next year on the third Thursday in October, to help promote the idea of healthy relationships, and please, check in on your friends. #PurpleThursday

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