By Julia Hawkins, LLMSW, Therapist
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence is not easy to talk about. It exists in whispered phrases – “I heard she had to get a restraining order” – fading bruises explained away as clumsiness, angry glances from across the room, embarrassed murmurs that “He’s not always so bad.”
It is also not easy to see. When people are suffering in a relationship with an abusive partner, they are likely to explain away the controlling and violent behaviors – not only to others, but to themselves. And if you’ve never been in or around an abusive relationship, you’re not very likely to see the signs unless they are extremely violent and obvious. Sometimes, the abuse is verbal or emotional, which means the only wounds are invisible. Often, the abusive partner is manipulative enough to talk their partner and any concerned friends out of doing something to help.
It is horrible and scary and makes people feel helpless. At the same time, there are things you can do to help! If you or someone you love is enduring an abusive relationship or has survived that relationship and wants to talk, the YWCA West Central Michigan is here. You’re not nuts, or blowing this out of proportion. You deserve to be and feel safe and happy in your relationship. Call 616-426-3727 to make an appointment with one of our advocates – they are here to listen to you, validate your feelings and experiences and help you stay safe.
Another way to help is to educate yourself and others on the lesser-known aspects of domestic violence. Below is a list of book and website recommendations with information about domestic violence and abuse. As you begin to explore this topic, please remember that survivors and victims of domestic violence are most often women in straight relationships, but a person of any gender or sexuality can experience abuse from their partner.
Read: Check out one of these titles to help increase your understanding and ability to help those who may be experiencing issues in their own lives.
The Duluth Model Power and Control Wheels
Abuse in LGBTQ+ Communities
YWCA West Central Michigan