This past weekend my community dealt with two horrific instances of domestic violence.
Theresa Fogle was found dead on Sunday, after her husband stormed into a local church (that they used to attend) and shot two pastors. After her husband was wrestled down and arrested, he told the police to go to his house where they'd find his wife as well as a written confession. At the house they did find the body of his wife whom he'd shot to death, as well as a letter supposedly written by her detailing alleged infidelities she'd had. As of now, there is no way for the investigators to decide if this letter was indeed penned by Theresa, or her husband, and if it WAS penned by Theresa if it was true, or if her husband forced her to, before killing her They are currently in the process of interviewing the men she allegedly had affairs with. Either way, infidelity is no excuse to take a life. I am in no way an advocate for divorce, but in situations like this, seriously, isn't divorce less tragic?! It was just found that her husband was actually charged with manslaughter of his first wife, in 1986. Apparently he got off with just some probation and fines. Theresa's family said they could see problems with the relationship from the start, mostly with control issues. However, with no physical signs of abuse, and Theresa defending him and how much she loved him, the family stayed out of her business.
While Theresa's family always sensed something was amiss with the relationship, most of the time, in domestic violence cases, closest friends and family members are not even aware of trouble. Another case from this weekend is a prime example.
Beatrice "Bea" Dickey was beaten to death with a baseball bat by her husband of 5 years on Saturday night. Her husband then drove to the local police station and said "lock me up, I just beat my wife with a bat, she is hurt real bad". Bea was airlifted to a local hospital where she later died. Hours earlier she'd been enjoying a concert with her husband. Bea actually worked for a local sheriffs office where she was the 3rd highest ranking executive member as well as the highest ranking civilian employee. She was very active in the community. Friends and family say their were no signs of trouble in the marriage.
And this is why domestic violence is a silent killer among women. Because many of the women that suffer don't speak up, many don't seek help. There are many reasons for this. Fear is a huge one. Fear of what could happen if they left the abusive spouse. My question is: Don't you fear what could happen if you STAY?! And of course there is the "but I love him" or "he does it because he loves me". Or "it's my fault". These excuses hurt my heart. I hate to see anyone suffer and it saddens me that so many have been abused not only physically, but emotionally as well, to the point of believing that they did something to deserve the abuse. THIS IS NOT TRUE. There is never, ever, an excuse to lay a hand on your spouse. I don't say never an excuse for a man to hit a woman, I say never an excuse to lay a hand on your spouse because it goes both ways. Yes, 9x out of 10, it's a man abusing a woman, BUT, it does happen the other way sometimes. And it shouldn't. There is NO EXCUSE.
I'd like to give you some statistics that I got from Women In Distress:
* Every 9 seconds a woman in the United States is battered by her husband, boyfriend or live in partner
* It is estimated that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 14 men will at some point experience domestic violence in their life. (If you sit down with two of your closest female friends, this is quite alarming that 1 out of 3 women will experience this)
* According to the FBI, every day 4 women die of domestic violence.
* Approximately 8.8 million children witness domestic abuse yearly. Of men who abuse women, 40-60% of them will abuse children as well.
* Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls report that a boyfriend threatened violence or self harm when presented with a break up. Also, 1 in 3 teenagers admit to knowing someone that has been abused.
* There are 572,000 reports of domestic violence that are officially reported to federal officials each year, however, the most conservative estimate is that 2 to 4 million are battered each year. At least 170,000 of these incidents are violent enough to require hospitalization.
It's so hard to help those involved in domestic disputes because ultimately the decision to get help or leave the spouse is theirs, and theirs alone. I can tell you from personal experience of trying to help people I care about, and people I don't even know, that you can tell them the stats all day long, but, ultimately, they have got to want to get out of their situation for themselves, and no one else. I've heard stories where girls were abused to the point of hospitalization and still wanted to go back. Of when the spouse has been arrested and at the same time the other party is ready and waiting when they are released. I've had a male friend of mine be told by a girl he was interested in that he was "too nice" and that they were used to being abused or with a mean guy. REALLY!?
Here are a few tips on what you can say if you know someone that is involved in a DV situation:
• I’m afraid for you or I am concerned about your safety.
This tells a victim you care and that you know they may be in danger. It may alert the victim that they too should be concerned about safety.
• I’m concerned about the safety and well being of your children.
If there are children in the picture, let the victim know you are concerned about what they may be experiencing. However, do not assume that the survivor is not already chiefly concerned with their children’s welfare.
• I am concerned because I think it will only get worse.
Although this might sound pessimistic, the statistics suggest that abuse is most likely to escalate. Giving victims false promises that it will get better or that the abuse is likely to end is not helpful.
• I am here for you.
This tells victims you care and you are willing to listen and do what you can. Be clear and set boundaries about what you can and cannot offer.
• You deserve to be treated with respect.
The victim has likely been told they are to blame for or deserve abuse. Your words can help counter the hurtful words of an abuser.
• Do you have a safety plan?
Regardless of whether a victim intends to leave the abuser immediately or ever, it is critical that a specific plan for their safety be developed. Supportive family, friends, and peers can make useful suggestions, but it is best to encourage a victim to consult with the local domestic violence center or police department victim advocate to develop a detailed plan
The above tips were also from Women In Distress
I write all of this as I get ready to participate in the 2nd annual purple ribbon run for Heather's Hope this coming Saturday. Heather's Hope is a non profit established by the family of Heather Rimmer. Heather was the aunt of one of my friends. Her life was tragically taken in an act of domestic violence in 2008.
Domestic Violence is one of the silent killers of women world wide. There are so many sufferers that never tell their story, that never get help, and that never make it out alive. Please, if you know someone who is suffering, or you suspect that they may be suffering silently, talk to them. Be their support system. And don't be afraid to speak up, even if you don't know the person. I've done it before. One time shortly after my friends aunt Heather was killed, I was working out at the gym and heard two younger girls talking about one of the girls being beat up and hospitalized. I could hear the one friend advising her friend to leave the guy, though when he called (while we were still working out) the other girl picked up and talked to him. I stopped my work out, walked over and apologized for over hearing them and offered my advice. I told them Heather's story, and I told the girl that was involved that she should listen to her friend as she was giving wonderful advice and I wished them well. I will never know what happened with the situation but I can just hope that I helped her make some positive changes in her life. You NEVER know when or how God will use you. I was placed at the gym at that time for a reason that day.
Sorry for the length of this. Sometimes (almost all the time) I go off on a rant when I get to talking about causes I am passionate about. If you made it this far, kudos :)
Side note: All opinions in this post are just that, my opinions. I have (fortunately) never had to deal with any type of domestic violence personally. I have had loved ones go through it, so I am a bit opinionated on the topic.