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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The BEST OF Table 4 One: Be Concerned... I Know I Am

When I was a little girl, I saw a woman, who was very close to me, involved in a relationship with a man who abused her.  She would go away for a while and come back with bumps and bruises on her body.  I never asked what happened to her because I already knew… As a 6 or 7 year old child I was exposed to Domestic Violence.  No one ever explained to me what was going on because they assumed I would never figure it out.  But I did.  And I still remember what her face looked like when she would return after having an altercation with her abuser.

To this day, Domestic Violence is becoming more prevalent and needs to be addressed.  Do me a favor and think about someone you love… Someone you truly care for… Now imagine them being afraid for their life because the person they are romantically involved with is abusing them. 

Being afraid, unhappy, uncomfortable or held hostage in a relationship is not how it’s supposed to be.  A great friend of mine often says, “Love doesn’t hurt…” and I completely agree.  Hurtful, harmful, abusive relationships can become tragic in a matter of moments.

“Domestic Violence is about power and control… When the abuser feels like they are losing the control in a relationship, they attack.”

Tiffany Hightower stated this during a Domestic Violence Awareness event I attended at Elite Nail Lounge in Calumet Park, IL last weekend. This statement really stuck with me as the attendees had a discussion about this epidemic.  I’ve never looked at it that way; I’ve always thought it was about anger or jealousy but she has changed my entire perception. 

The discussion led to many eye-opening thoughts for me… My friend's mother, Yolan Henry was also a speaker during the event.  In January 2009, her daughter, my friend, Nova Henry was killed by a man she was romantically involved with, along with her baby.  This situation in particular is one that I think of often, not only because it was a horrible tragedy, but because it hits close to home.  You don’t often realize the power of pain when it happens to others, but when it gets personal, you are forced to feel it... and this particular situation and the sorrow I felt and still feel is REAL. 

As I listened to my friend’s mother speak to the group, I was overwhelmed by her power.  Yes, she is powerful, influential and an advocate for Domestic Violence Awareness. She has made it her business to make sure people are educated about Domestic Violence so that it will become less prevalent.  One statement in particular has helped me and will change how I interact with those around me.

“Don’t turn your head or ignore your friends or neighbors when they are in abusive situations. You reaching out, saying something or calling the police might save someone’s life!”  

As individuals, we all have people in our lives that we care about.  As humans, we also have to use ours instincts and caring nature!  My thoughts are as Yolan suggested, if we were to pay more attention to those around us, we could possibly prevent horrible things from happening.  Sometimes people are afraid to reach out or to even leave, you never know a person’s situation.  So, before you judge or turn the other cheek, just think about mothers like Yolan Henry who’s loved ones are no longer here because of the lack of concern of a neighbor. 

I know it can be frustrating or feel like you are “beating a dead horse” when trying to convince someone that they are in an unsafe environment, but realize that every situation is different and not as easy to escape as some may think.  Domestic Violence comes in many forms and has some serious warning signs as well… We have to also be aware of the behaviors of the people we have in our lives.  I know my friend’s tragic story has definitely made me pay more attention to the signs… 

There are several avenues to help people in need… hotlines, support groups, shelters, etc… Please seek help if you need it or reach out if you know someone in need.  Domestic Violence IS NOT just going to disappear, we have to be aggressive and sincere in our efforts and less accepting of hurtful and harmful behavior.  Please check out the links below… use them, pass them on… GET INVOLVED!

Table for One please… Fighting for change… Love me or leave me alone…


Domestic Violence Help Line:  (877) 863-6338

National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233

Break the Cycle:  www.breakthecycle.org