Real love doesn’t hurt, domestic violence does

Published 9:57 pm Monday, October 8, 2012

He was the man of her dreams, so she thought. Initially, he was always so nice to her; sending her flowers or candy every week. He could not tell her enough times how much he loved her and how she completed him. At the age of 19 and blinded by love, she did not notice how he began controlling her. At first, he was her best friend, but then he became possessive by distancing her from all of her family and friends. Soon he began degrading her, and then it became physical; the man who had once confessed his undying love had now become a tyrant resorting to physical abuse.

When he saw the marks that covered her body, he would apologize, but according to him, she made him do it; if only she would not set him off. The physical scars soon healed, but the psychological scars remained. She even began to believe she caused her own abuse.

She stayed in that abusive relationship for years, hiding the physical wounds from all of her loved ones. Every time she made up her mind to leave, he would woo her during the honeymoon stage, but it never lasted long. Despite the way that he treated her, she convinced herself that she had a wonderful marriage and she couldn’t imagine not being with him for the rest of her life. In public, she pretended to be perfectly happy but eventually, it almost destroyed her by taking a toll on her self-esteem.

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When she decided to leave, he began stalking her and saying that he wouldn’t live without her.

One night she abruptly awakened by a strange and eerie feeling. Somehow he had entered her place and there he sat, beside her bed, watching her sleep. And that night, he beat her until sunrise. She pleaded with him to stop but he only agreed after she told him that she would come back. As before, they went through the honeymoon stage. But every time she went to work, she wondered why her coworkers didn’t hear her screaming on the inside.

October is domestic violence awareness month and there are many who face similar situations on a daily basis. While men, children, and the elderly may become victims of domestic abuse, the most familiar form of domestic violence is a female being battered by a male.

Domestic violence is the number one cause of emergency room visits for women.

One issue I’ll be looking into during the 2013 legislative session is strengthening policies and laws to protect victims of domestic violence. We can take a significant step to change state laws and policies to prevent government agencies from selling, or otherwise publicizing, contact information such as phone numbers or addresses of victims who have escaped violent domestic situations. This makes it more difficult for their abusers to find them.

We will also look into strengthening our laws to punish abusers who use the internet as a way of abusing their victims (such as harassing on social media sites, via email or online chats). We will also fight to restore and fully fund government agencies that help victims, such as the Department of Children’s Affairs (which lost all funding) and the Department of Child Abuse and Neglect prevention (which lost almost 80 percent of its funding and now has a budget of only $50,000).

If you or someone that you know are a victim of domestic violence, please call the Alabama Coalition’s hotline at (800) 650-6522 for help because real love doesn’t hurt.