Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working on art for the coming Boneyard Arts Festival. In my last few posts, I have been covering some of the works I am creating for this event, with a large part of the work being drawn from my personal experiences with domestic violence. I could just continue on with updates on the progress on my work, but before I do, I want to talk a bit about this subject that still manages to plague virtually every society on this planet.
After I wrote my last post (and you can go back to each of my posts in this series – 1, 2, 3, 4), I talked about it with my mother, who responded, “Part of recovery is not to dwell in the past.” And she is right. It is, perhaps, possible that maybe I’ve never fully recovered. However, I like to think that what I am doing is trying to understand and learn from the past. That is, after all, a large part of why we study history – that if you do not learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it. It is also evident that while that particular nightmare has long since ended, others still suffer and there are still large, systemic issues within our society that allow these things to happen. We live in a world where a girl can be raped in a room full of people with no one stopping it and she is blamed and mocked while news reporters are saddened at the diminished futures for her rapists. And then, in an article that was just posted yesterday, it was reported that domestic violence homicides are rising.
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
A question I often hear is, “Why do people stay in abusive relationships?”, or I will hear comments and statements that criticize victims, such as “I would be smart enough to leave” or “I wouldn’t put up with it”. When you are on the outside looking in, it can sometimes be hard to understand why. While each case is unique, there are some characteristics that can be found over and over in different stories. Often the victim had a low self-esteem to begin with. They often either do not know how to identify that they are in an abusive relationship – and not all forms of abuse are physical – or they believe the abusive behavior to be normal – which frequently happens when growing up with domestic violence. If they do not have a large social network, people they know and trust and can turn to for help and support, it is easy to grow dependent upon their partner and so it can become harder to feel like they can survive away from their partners.
Do you think you might be in an abusive relationship? Check the Warning Signs!
Feminist Majority Foundation provides some important facts regarding domestic violence
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day – 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD)
HelpGuide.org also has some good information available on their site on how to identify, escape and survive an abusive relationship.