As an advocate for domestic violence survivors and getting the word out to women, and some men, who are in an abusive situation that there is help, I have written about and given many speeches to diverse audiences. I travelled throughout the coastal counties of Northern California and talked with Rotary Clubs. I encouraged the members to be active in making sure women (and some men) know what domestic violence is and how they can help themselves get out of the dangerous and all too often deadly situation. More than three women are murdered every day by their abusive partners in the USA. (CDC) More than one third of all homeless people are there escaping violence in the home. Now more than ever during the pandemic, women feel trapped and feel there is no place to go. Calls for help have increased even more after the stay at home restrictions have been lifted. Madeleine Keegan O’Connell, CEO, YWCA Sonoma County says, “There is help, immediately. Call the Sonoma County crisis # 707-546-1234. Write it down.”
The first thing to know is what is domestic violence? Is it physical and sexual abuse? The answer is yes! it also can be emotional trauma, psychological trauma, financial abuse, child abuse, elder abuse.
Children are frequently the victims of the verbal and physical abuse suffered on their moms. Living in an abusive household, children may experience short- and long-term problems, health, psychological, emotional and educational.
Here in Sonoma County we have a resource that is very responsive to anyone who is experiencing abuse. The YWCA Sonoma County (707-546-1234) and the Family Justice Center, both housed in Santa Rosa with the charge to serve all who live in Sonoma County. They can handle every single call to their crisis lines. crisis #: 707-546-1234.
Are you being abused? Any efforts to have power and control over you may be abuse, such as:
1. Constant put downs and gas lighting of your feelings and disregard for your input and needs.
2. Violence and threats of violence “I’m going to kill you or myself” or” I’ll beat you,” or just a look that makes you feel you are about to be hit.
An attack on your self esteem, your feelings of worth are constantly being challenged.
Saying things like “don’t be so sensitive” or “you are stupid” when you have a real concern.
The underlying reason for the abusive behavior is to have power and control over you. Frequently you are the target of the abuser’s anger and violence. You begin to think it is your fault when in fact he wants power and control over you at all costs.
And if you are indeed someone who feels constantly put down, beginning to feel worthless, then I encourage you to #1 if you feel in danger, call 911 or the crisis line, 707-546-1234, they will help you. 911 is a quick way to get help with the police. Many don’t want to call the police because of fears of what will happen, or retaliation of the abuser after the call. There are many and complex reasons why someone does not reach out for help. Some examples are “if I just tried harder, he wouldn’t get mad at me,” or ”I love him and can help him" Or “I feel so ashamed” etc. That is why the crisis number is a good number to call it is safe, confidential and protective for you. Crisis #: 707-546-1234
As far as keeping track of what is happening to you, write down and date every abuse and keep it in a safe place in your journal. When you decide you want help out of the situation your contemporaneous notes will help in proving your allegations.
Frequently I have come across survivors, mostly women, who have turned to alcohol or drugs to dull the pain of living with an abuser. Then the abuser accuses the victim of child endangerment and abuse and takes the victim to court to take away the children. Don’t let your situation get to that downward spiral. Work with the counselors at the YWCA and the Family Justice Center. They are here to help you and your family make the best decisions for your safety and well being.
You are worth it. Write it down, keep it private, Crisis # 707-546-1234.