Domestic Violence: A primer in three parts.

I would wonder when I walked the streets after a day at work, is he one? The one with the striped oxford shirt, or maybe the guy in the seersucker shirt and flip-flops. Is he an abuser? Does he hit his wife? Does he scream obscenities at her and tell her how stupid she is? The guy in the expensive car who smiles when I roll up beside him, is he one too? Does he grab his wife by the hair and force himself on her? Does he control all of the money? Does he tell her when to come and go, does he time it when she leaves the house or check the odometer on her car?

10 years as a 9-1-1 operator told me the answer to all of those questions is yes. Abusers are rich and poor and middle class or somewhere in between. One trait they all share is that the abuser usually come across as arrogant, however they actually feel very inadequate and want to remain in control. One thing I know for sure is that domestic violence happens in every strata of society. I’ve taken calls from the wives of celebrities and police officers. No race or socio-economic class is immune.

As a 9-1-1 operator, most of the calls I took that required the police involved domestic violence. And according to the American Bar Association (ABA):

  • Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.
  • In 2000, 1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims.

Those statistics are appalling.

What’s wrong with us? What do we need to do and say to our young boys so they don’t feel inadequate and powerless? What safeguards can we put in our educational system to let young me know that it is never okay to hit a woman?

Finally, men are not the only abusers. Coming up, women who abuse men and how to leave an abuser.

Chime in.

– Aunt B

Yes, He’s Gone Too Far. Leave Him

Hello Brenda,

I’m 19 years old. I have a son, Jesus; he is the love of my life. I am still with his dad but sometimes he goes too far and he hits me and he calls me names. Sometimes I am just too scared of him and I feel as if he controls me. When he is around his family he treats me like sh*t to show off in front of them. I tell him to stop and he just doesn’t listen.

This is not the first time he has done it. I just don’t know what to do any more…. like if we get mad at each other because I did wrong or if he hits me I say to myself to leave him and later like in 20 minutes I am happy with him. And later on he will do it again.

I am just so tired of it and worst of all the baby sees it. I just don’t know what to do anymore please help me.

Dear I-am-just-so-tired-of-it

I once worked as a 9-1-1 operator in a large city. I spoke with women like you every hour of every day. I began to memorize their voices through clenched teeth or swollen lips and would try to tell them just what I’m about to tell you right now.

  • The number to the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). Translators are available.
  • Someone that loves you doesn’t hit you or call you names.
  • Having your child see his father hit you or hear him call you names is child abuse.
  • You don’t have to live with someone controlling you, hitting you or calling you names.

While the police were on the way, some would hang up before I could finish, or the phone would be snatched from the wall or thrown or they would be hit again. If I could’ve talked to them longer I would’ve told them this:

  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline number and ask them to help you make a plan to leave. 1-800-799-7233.
  • As you make your plan, tell only one person. Let them know that they have your life in their hands. The most dangerous time is when the abuser (your child’s father) loses his power (over you).
  • Leaving will not solve all of your problems.
  • You are not worthless.
  • You are not harming your child by leaving
  • None of this is your fault.

“Leaving an abusive partner is a very difficult thing to do. It frequently feels like you are failing, or destroying your family, or not trying to work things out, or not giving your partner “a second chance.” It hurts, and it’s scary.” – Blaine Nelson

This is going to be a bumpy ride. Hang on.

– Brenda


Kiss Jesus for me.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Verbal Abuse Is Abuse

Dear Brenda,

I come from a background that may be unfamiliar to you. I’m Nigerian and our perspective of marriage is different than in other countries. For example a single or divorced woman receives a lot of stigma from our society. Another example is that a woman who is abused by her husband is encouraged to continue with the marriage and no one sees anything wrong with it, it’s considered normal.

I have been married for almost 20 years and I believe I have had enough from my mentally abusive husband. He blames me for everything that goes wrong, he treats me with no respect, and he makes me feel so old and ugly and does not appreciate anything I do. He makes me feel worthless and insecure. He does not encourage me to do anything; instead he keeps reminding me that I have not achieved anything since we’ve been married.

I try everything to please him and make him feel happy. I am always afraid of losing him because he keeps threatening that he will leave me for a younger woman when I am old. This makes me to feel insecure to the extent that I always demand sex. I was surprised the other day when he accused me of always thinking of sex and calling me a sex addict. This really shook me and made me start thinking about my life and whether I want to continue with this situation.

I am going through great depression. I don’t understand why he is behaving this way.

Please help me!

Dear Please-Help-Me,

Your husband’s abusive behavior comes from his own lack of self worth. Abusive men are notoriously insecure. He feels worthless and abuses you in order to feel better about himself. Does he know this? No. Will he ever be able to admit it, even if you pointed it out to him? No. Please know that you will never be able to please him, not with sex, a clean house, or a hot meal. Nothing you do will keep the abuse from happening. Stop trying. He needs psychological help and that is the only way you will know why he behaves the way he does.

Also, know that depression is a sign from your body, saying something is wrong here. You’re listening and that’s a good thing.

I get a good sense that you know what he is saying isn’t true and that you know you deserve a better life. Which brings us right to the show down. Would life be better with the devil you know, meaning your husband, his expectations and the verbal abuse you feel or the devil you don’t know, meaning the societal stigma you talk about.

Here’s the deal:

Picture two homes. One belongs to you and your husband, and one belongs just to you.

When you are in the home of you and your husband it is noisy, words fly back and forth. There is tension. When you open the door and go out there is peace and quiet.

When you are in your own home, there is peace and quiet. However, when you open the door it is noisy, word fly back and forth, and there is tension.

Where do you want to live?

Choose wisely.

– Brenda

Beat The System, Not Each Other

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Nights with full moons seemed worse. The calls came right after another, the red light blinking as if it might just burst out of its box.

“9-1-1 what is your emergency?” And the fear and pain would spill into the phone line that connected us.

For ten years I was a 9-1-1 operator, which sometimes makes for interesting conversation at parties. The hardest calls to take were the ones that involved domestic violence .

Here’s the deal, fear and love cannot live in the same place. Meaning that you cannot be in love with another human being and fear them at the same time. That’s not love.

If you’re afraid to come home, if you’re afraid your significant other will cut your money off, call you stupid, or push, shove, kick, scratch, pinch or bite you, if they force you to have sex or intimidate you, that’s domestic violence.

October is National Breast Cancer awareness month too, but did you know that twice as many women are victims of domestic violence?

Victims of domestic violence live in the nice parts of town, they live in the middle class neighborhoods with the nice schools, they live in working class neighborhoods, they live next to the train tracks or in trailer parks. They work next to us; they can be our doctor or therapist, a postal worker or salesperson at our favorite store.

Domestic violence isn’t choosy, it can happen to anyone.

You can’t fear and love someone at the same time. That is not love.

There is help.

– Aunt B