Some people become trapped in the cycle of abuse that is domestic violence. A domestic battery is almost always a misdemeanor in Florida, no matter the severity of the beating, because the victim and the batterer are family members. The same violence perpetrated against a stranger would often be considered felony battery, and be taken much more seriously by law enforcement. To the dismay and distress of family members and friends victims of domestic abuse often stay in or return to a violent relationship.
Domestic violence is real. From the outside looking in it appears that the victims must enjoy or welcome the abuse – nothing could be farther from the truth. The cycle of abuse becomes a dance that the victim cannot easily escape. We would never criticize a victim of a serial killer for failing to escape, but many victims of domestic violence are blamed.
I don't apologize for my grudges. Brutus, Mima’s nasty little rat terrier, a dog I had known for seven years, totally unprovoked, tore across the living room and bit me in the leg. Bobby, a small man and my husband at the time, for no good reason, swung a rolled up set of mini-blinds, swung like a baseball bat, connecting with my back and nearly killed me. Still today I am wary of small dogs, small men, and mini-blinds.
Back then, my family, my friends, and more than one cop, asked me, “Why don’t you just leave?” They all meant, and sometimes said, why don’t you just leave Bobby? -- he hits you and you keep letting him come back, and what is the matter with you that you allow it? Back then, I never had an answer. It wasn’t love that kept me there.
We were in my kitchen the day he almost killed me. Bobby and I weren’t exactly married and we weren’t yet divorced. He had filed divorce papers months before, but then refused to finish the process. Our marriage was in limbo. He was back in my life, insisting that he help work on the house. The house was a government foreclosure, abandoned for over two years, a haven for neighborhood kids skipping school, and in need of general repair. We found it together, but bought it with my name, credit and down payment. During fights and renovations, the house was in constant chaos and disarray -- piles of block, stacks of sheet rock, tools, tear-out, and mess.
That day in my kitchen, Bobby told me to go out to the trailer in front of the house and tell the guy, our supposed laborer, staying there to get out. I told Bobby no. I hadn’t let the guy move in there to begin with, I didn’t think I should have to tell him to get out. Bobby was holding the mini-blinds when I told him no. He was on his way to hang them somewhere in the house. I did not tell him no rudely, or add any other comment. Just no. I don’t remember the blow hurting, at least not right away. I didn’t fall down.
Read More ... Domestic Violence is Real - Why won't she just leave?
We love our children, families, and friends. Many Florida families are torn apart by a one time act, or a pattern of behavior that won't stop. We mourn and continue to try to help: The loved ones who did the wrong thing, and find themselves behind bars; and the young people who cannot seem to be able to escape the revolving door; and the people who are plenty old enough to know better, yet just can't seem to get it right.
If you are the victim of domestic violence -- GET HELP. Your abuser is unlikely to stop on his own. Victims spend their time hoping and wishing for the day their abuser will change. Admit to yourself, that your abuser may never change, and change your own life instead.
If a family member is a victim of domestic violence, try to be patient. Try not to turn your back on your loved one, for once again returning to the abuser. Educate yourself about the dynamics of a system of domestic abuse, and power and control works.
“The Domestic Violence Program serves as a clearinghouse on domestic violence information. Through community-based partnerships the office administers and coordinates statewide activities related to the prevention and intervention of domestic violence. The Program regulates, certifies and monitors domestic violence centers across the state of Florida. There are currently 42 certified domestic violence centers. These centers provide crisis intervention and support services to adult victims of domestic violence and their children free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7-days a week. Mandated services include emergency shelter, 24-hour crisis and information hotline, safety planning, counseling, case management, child assessments, information and referrals, education for community awareness, and training for law enforcement and other professionals. Many centers also provide legal and court advocacy, transportation, relocation assistance, life skills training, transitional housing, daycare, outreach services, rape crisis intervention, and prevention programs in local schools.”