I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard, “Trease, I would never have thought you were going through that” when I disclose the fact that I was the victim of domestic abuse for the 19 years that I was married. People always say, “…but you’re so strong” or “…you never looked like you were being abused.” I don’t know how many I’ve been told that I hid it well. That’s what victims do. We are experts at hiding the abuse and we can teach master courses on the many ways hide the pain. Until we see the light, we remain exceptional at justifying his actions.
What It Is
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. Under the ugly umbrella of domestic violence, you will find physical violence, economic abuse (i.e., gaslighting), marital rape, psychological abuse, emotional battering, and many other miscarriages of human and criminal justices.
It occurs in every single race, creed, color, community, economic status, age group, religious sector, sexual orientation, and nationality. It doesn’t matter if there are only designer clothes hanging in that bedroom closet or if they are all from the local Goodwill store, domestic violence can be the dirty secret overshadowing any household. We were upper middle-class, drove nice luxury cars, lived in beautiful homes, and hung out with the “right” people. I owned over $70,000 in jewelry. Still, I was so battered mentally and emotionally that some days I didn’t even feel like getting out of bed because I knew that before evening, I would be gnashed verbally. I knew that something would be wrong with something that I had done even though I had tried so desperately to do right.
Numbers, the Numbers
I don’t care how many times I list the numbers here, I don’t care how many times I see them elsewhere, the actual statistics involving domestic violence is staggering and very sobering.
Take a minute and think about this: 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. One of those people could be sitting among you at church. One of those people could be sitting next to you at your kid’s ballgame. It could very well be you.
Think about these numbers and the other ones listed on The National Domestic Violence Hotline‘s website. All of it sucks, but it is our reality. It is the world we live in. It must end.
The Construction of Trease
Looking back, my case of domestic abuse was “text book” in some ways, but in other ways, it was a brand new kind of stupid. The insults began almost immediately after we were married. They came fast and hard. The truth is, I was extremely naïve. My mama, on the other hand, knew that I had chosen the wrong man to marry. She pleaded with me not to marry him. My oldest brother did everything he could to stop me. I wouldn’t hear it.
In all truth, I cannot say that I wish I would have listened because I will go to my grave with the belief that everything I experienced helped to create the woman before you today. I would not be as strong as I am at this moment, I would not be as knowledgeable as I am, and I would not have the story to tell and share had I not lived in it and through it. I believe that every person on this planet is here for a purpose. Helping other women recover is mine. I know, first-hand, what it’s like to shake when you hear that door being unlocked. I know what it’s like to show up at events with a fake smile because you wouldn’t dare let the world know that you were belittled all the way to the event.
Yes, it may very well be her. I was her. You may know her. You may be her.
If you know her, help her. If you are her, get help for yourself.