Most of us have visited an emergency room at one time or another. Either you were there for yourself or you were there with someone. Think about all the other people who were in that same room with you. Folks visit the ER for a variety of reasons. In what some may consider the most severe cases, you can see the injury. You see scratches, burns, abrasions, broken teeth, etc. Then there are the people who are slumped over or leaning on a loved one. Maybe they’re experiencing a wicked headache. Maybe they’re battling the flu. You can see those people are in pain. Finally, you have the people who show no signs of distress. You wouldn’t know by looking at them, but they’re in enough pain to be in the emergency room just like all those other people. These examples I just mentioned? They all represent pain. They also describe some of the different showings of domestic violence and abuse.
Black Eyes, Busted Lips, Broken Bones, and Death
Not too long ago, a close friend of mine lost a sister-in-law to the horror of domestic violence. Her estranged husband stabbed her repeatedly in the neck and chest after they had argued over the fact that he had been spending their rent money on crack. He did this in front of a store after she had come back to the car from purchasing a few groceries. He had been planning it for some time. He was just biding his time. After he did the deed, he walked into the store, told them what he had done, and asked them to call the police. The world lost an amazingly kind and loving woman that day. Not all domestic violence cases end in physical death, but little pieces of the victim are killed with each incident.
The shiners that are cleverly covered up with concealer; the “oh, I was playing with the baby and he hit me in the lip”; the “girl, you know how clumsy I am — I fell down the stairs”, and all the other lies used to disguise the truth will never alleviate that truth. Physical domestic violence can occur in any household, from the most elaborate mansions to the smallest hut in the village. This form of abuse comes through slapping, kicking, hitting, shoving, or any other type of physical force. It can also occur through sexual assault. I’ve learned to control my anger when I hear people say a woman can’t be raped by her husband because just the notion of that is absurd. It happened to me twice. I didn’t want to have sex with him. He made it happen. It was rape. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. If you say no, and your body is taken by force, it is rape. Period.
Bleeding Brains, Heart Attacks, Strokes, and Death
By now, everyone knows that I suffered a brain hemorrhage on July 21, 2009. I was supposed to die. Had I met my demise that day, it would have been the result of years of relentless mental and emotional domestic abuse. No one saw the scars that my mind and heart bore. It would have been the result of all the times I was belittled with statements like, “My degree is better than yours” or “I know you don’t catch on to things as fast as I do”. It would have been due to the humiliation of hearing things like, “I should have married a White girl” or hearing him tell our son, “Don’t marry a bitch like your mama.” It would have been the result of hearing him tell his family that I was dirty because I refused to be the only one who cleaned. It would have been the result of gaslighting. Nope, there were no physical beatings, but I came close to dying.
See It With Your Eyes and Ears
Speaking from experience, I can tell you that the overwhelmingly large majority of women caught in the throes of domestic violence are so ashamed of the situation they’re trapped in that they won’t tell anyone. They’ll suffer in silence. They’ll keep covering up the bruises. If you know of anyone who is being abused, extend yourself to her. Most likely, she’s going to deny it, but sometimes all it takes for her to begin the journey of escape is knowing that someone cares. Don’t be one of those people who will wish they had taken some kind of action. Help.