For battered NFL wives, a message from the cops and the league: Keep quiet By Simone Sebastian and Ines Bebea came out today in the Washington Post. These two brave writers are peeling back the layers and shining a light on domestic violence in the NFL and the tacit reaction on behalf of law enforcement and NFL leadership. Spousal abuse and child abuse are issues we continue to face in this country and the costs associated with this type of abuse are astronomical.
So what kind of costs am I talking about? All sorts of costs, health related, educational and emotional costs that put the victim into a type of emotional bankruptcy. How do you measure the value of self worth or the value of one’s potential? Abusers are excellent at whittling you down, making you believe that you deserved the beating you got. Messages like, “you can’t do anything right!” and “you’ll never amount to anything!,” and let’s not forget “you made me do that!” degrade a person slowly over time until the they start to believe it. It’s a slow erosion of self worth that will eventually color their perception. Like a form of PTSD, the victim will start to see things only from the abusers angle and actually believe that they’re inciting the anger and if they just did things a little better, it would be different.
Abusers manage the abused in very clever ways. Their raging anger spilleth over like a pissed off volcano so the abused will look for ways to cope and mitigate the effect. They’ll walk on eggshells, have dinner on the table, have the house sparkly clean, do a once over the house to make sure there’s nothing to trigger an outburst. They’ll engage in polite supportive conversation that avoids triggers. They may seek to console their pain in substance abuse or forms of repetitive behavior that have a calming effect.
The longer these coping mechanisms are in place the more the abused loses their voice and their power. Their life gets sucked out by the abusers volatility and the constant effort to keep the abuser pacified. The costs to the physical and psychological body may seem like they can never be recovered but they can, only if the cycle is broken. The road to healing starts with the desire to reclaim your own self worth and voice and the recognition that something is very wrong. But for real change to occur, you’ve gotta hit the tipping point, the point where the desire to live in a different way overcomes the abusers conditioning.
How does someone who finds themselves in this circumstance reclaim their voice and their right to live in a safe environment? Talk about it, reach out, make a plan. Involve your healthcare provider. Healthcare professionals in California are required to report injuries related to abuse. Reach out to the local or national organizations that are available to help. In Sacramento we have WEAVE. In Jacksonville, FL, there’s the Quigley House. The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-7233 and they’re equipped to provide local resource information for victims.
The one thing’s guaranteed, abusers escalate. They get off on abusing and seeing their victim tip-toeing around their rage. Get out when you can, before it’s too late and before #WhyIStayed turns into #HowIDied.
I wrote “I’m gonna run” with all of this in mind. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month #DAVM. Let your voice be heard and stand up for every woman’s right to live in a safe environment without fear. Run if you need to.
It’s gotten bad, it sure ain’t good.
His temper’s rising, he’s gotten cruel.
It’s time to go. I’m no longer safe.
Ain’t no therapy, gonna change that face.
I’m gonna run, I’m gonna hide
I’m gonna find, the strength I left, behind, I’m gonna run.
I’ve got a plan. I’ve packed some bags.
Gonna head straight up through North Carolina
I’ve got three thousand dollars, and a clean car title.
I know I’ll be just fine, if I can make it past the state line.
I’ve grown stronger. I’m standing tall.
I may bend, but I’ll never fall….
cause I’m gonna run.
I made the video using images from Flickr’s creative commons and am not monetizing the video.
Most importantly, #KnowWhenItsTimeToRun and #Dontstay #itcangetworse.
Every life is valuable and everyone has something to contribute. Don’t ever let someone else tell you differently.
*Kally O’Mally is a composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist living in Northern California. She writes and produces her own works.