Why Domestic Violence Needs to Stop

I’m going to be speaking from the point of view of women who have suffered from domestic violence. I am fully aware that men have been victims of domestic violence as well, but I am not a man who has lived through that so my view may be skewed towards women. I am not meaning to downplay or exclude men.

Now that that’s out of the way, I wanted to take some time today to talk about why domestic violence needs to stop. It’s still National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Canada and this is a subject that is very personal for me.

For four years of my life I lived in hell. It wasn’t even bad compared to other people. My mother lived. She was broken, but she lived. She did not have to go to the hospital. Domestic violence is more than physical violence and people need to understand that. The psychological and emotional damage is just as permanent, if not more so. The financial damage is also important to understand.

For four years, directly after a divorce where I didn’t understand what happened, where I didn’t understand where my father went and who this new man was who wanted to ‘take his place’ came from, domestic violence became my ‘normal’. Seriously. I thought it was normal for men to hit women. When my mother used emotional and psychological violence against me, I thought it was normal. It was normal until I was 18 years old. In grade 7 we had assigned seats on our bus. My seat-mate was a younger boy who repeatedly punched me in the upper arm the entire 30 minute drive to and from school. No one stopped him. My male bus driver could see it happening, but did nothing. My younger brother thought this was normal and would do the same. He was 6 years old.

As I previously wrote, I watched my mother threaten to kill  herself in the kitchen. We spent holidays in hotels. We lived in a log cabin in the middle of the forest for those four years. It’s hard to get more isolated than that. We had no family around for at least 1.5 hours of driving.

There were ‘nice’ times peppered in with that violence. But that’s not always the way it is. Children all over the world grow up in situations far more hostile and violent than I ever did. But we are scarred all the same.

I haven’t had a relationship with my mother in almost 15 years. There are many ways in which she has failed as a parent and that she will not accept responsibility for. I haven’t had a relationship with my brother in just as many years. Our family is broken. Is domestic violence the only reason for that? No, but it’s a goddamn big one.

I don’t remember my mother being ‘normal’. She was manic, she didn’t eat, she drank and smoked a lot. I spent nights calling the town bars to find out where she was and if she was coming home. Did she drink to forget her pain? Probably. I don’t know. I can’t talk to her about that. Honestly, I’m not even sure she’s still alive.

Because of this upbringing I do not have self-esteem. I am married, I have two children. I have a great job and hopes for further education. I was able to get a degree and to leave. How many women and children can’t leave? How many of them are stuck in the hell that is domestic violence? How many sons have been trained to beat their mothers, sisters, daughters and wives because it’s their normal? How many mothers, sisters, daughters and wives have been trained to view themselves as worthless, less than dirt because that is their normal? Honestly, I don’t want to see the numbers. I don’t want to be reminded as to what this hell is.

I have trust issues. I have self-confidence issues. I worry about raising sons. I have no daughters. For that, I am grateful.

Domestic violence needs to stop. We need to stop normalizing this. We need to stop showing children and the rest of the world that it is okay to abuse those who we are supposed to love and who are supposed to love us.

Posted by Sarah Jayne

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[…] Crisis Counsellor at the women’s shelter where I live. Since I have personal experience with domestic abuse on various levels and I have this desire to help others I wanted to get out there and do more. […]

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