Saturday, October 29, 2011

It could happen to you

The month of October is famously known for breast cancer awareness,  but rarely do people recognize it also as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  This subject is one that I have been aware of for some time now.  

Just the other day, I was having a telephone conversation with a friend and she witnessed an argument between her neighbors.  She wanted to intervene, but was afraid that he would retaliate if she reported the incident.  I am sure many others can recount numerous "lovers quarrels" that we omitted to tell someone about.  

Domestic Violence has seriously affected some of my very close friends.  I am grateful that they are here today to speak on their experiences.  

Check out my brief interview with Tiffanie.  She was victim of domestic violence as a teenager.  

S: When did you realize that you were a victim of Domestic Violence? 
T: The first time I was hit/abused by my partner.

S: How has this experience affected your life and decisions? 
T: This experiences has totally affected my life. I vowed that once I got out of that situation that I would never subject myself to that anymore, I became more careful about the kind of guys I would “date” or become interested in. I learned to LOVE myself first. Since having children of my own I make it a point to talk with my girls especially about domestic violence. Also that experience made we want to help others that maybe going through the same thing.

S: What advice do you have for young females in denial about their situation? 
T: My advice would be to understand yourself worth. Love yourself first, and be aware of all the signs of domestic violence. You don’t have to deal with it, chances are if he does it once he’ll do it again, best option is to LEAVE. Also the victim has to realize that “they” cannot change the behavior of the abuser, and they have to understand that it is not their fault as to why they are being abused.

S: What signs should family and friends of victims look out for?
T: If the victim becomes distant, always making excuses for the abuser, apparent bruises or marks. Just basically if the victim doesn’t seem like their self, always sad, crying etc.  

S: What advice do you have for family and friends of victims to help the victim leave their abuser? 
T: Make sure the victim can trust you, contact local authorities, abuse hotlines, continue to encourage the victim, most importantly stay involved. Don’t give up, Victims sometimes shut down from the outside world, family and friends should always be supportive and show their genuine love and concern for the victims well being.

Reading back over my questions and her answers took me back to that time when this affected her.  As a friend, I wish I was more cognizant of what was going on.  Its so important for young girls to have a support system to help them know their worth and to show them that hitting isn't love.  Today, she is a wife in a healthy marriage, mother to three beautiful children and a friend to many.  Tiffanie is planning to pursue a career mentoring and helping young girls.  I am certain her story will help others.