Since Internet history can be easily tracked and used to further endanger your life, we highly suggest reading this post in “incognito” or “private browsing” mode, and noting how to quickly exit the page.
Hopefully, the video of NFL running back Ray Rice beating his now-wife unconscious in an elevator will ignite a long-overdue conversation on the seriousness of domestic violence. Hopefully, his suspension and the resulting media storm won’t jeopardize his wife’s welfare again. And hopefully, the fallout from Rice’s despicable actions will not further silence other victims fearing similar repercussions for their own loved ones.
The truth is nearly 1 in 4 American women””and 1 in 7 American men– experience some sort of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse at the hands of their partner. We’re not interested in rehashing statistics though. Here’s what we really want you to know:
It is ABSOLUTELY NOT OKAY for a spouse/fiancÃ©e/boyfriend to slap, hit, beat, or burn you in any way. A violent outburst is NOT something you brought upon yourself, nor is it a sign of affection, and you are NOT the only person who can “save” him or her.
If you are being abused and aren’t ready to terminate the relationship just yet, at least consider putting together a safety plan so you can protect yourself in heated situations. This would include memorizing phone numbers for friends, hotlines, and shelters; devising an escape route for exiting your home; tucking an overnight bag with a little money and copies of important documents in your car or office; and even contemplating some safe zones (quick exits, no access to weapons) within your own house. You may also want to download a safety app onto your smartphone, such as Circle of 6 or ASPIRE News, to quickly alert emergency contacts when you need support.
Once you are prepared to end the relationship, please leave the shared home IMMEDIATELY. A lawyer, police officer, or women’s shelter can later help you get a restraining or protective order, gain temporary custody of the children, and possibly file assault or harassment charges. If you are able, please take photographs of any injuries, have the hospital document your visit, save threatening voicemails, and record all instances of abusive behavior to solidify your case.
Incidentally, non-US citizens do have legal rights when it comes to domestic violence and can still get urgent assistance. Casa de Esperanza, for example, offers a 24-hour crisis line (linea de crisis 24-horas) in Spanish at 651.772.1611. The domestic violence hotline (1.800.799.SAFE) is another powerful resource to keep handy in case a co-worker, relative, or friend is in an abusive relationship.
Above all, please realize you do have options and that you are not in this alone; we’re one of many who are here for you no matter what.