We had visited them on Boxing Day and all seemed well, except that my friend complained that her body ached all over. When I asked her what she thought the problem could be, she smiled saying she had overworked herself the previous day (Christmas Day), cooking and entertaining guests. She’s a quiet person, so beyond that, I looked no further.
Fast-forward three months; she is spotting a big bruise on her arm and her left cheek. We spend some time together after church one Sunday and I ask what happened. She says she didn’t realize there was water on the stairs and she slipped and fell. Hmmnn, I am not so convinced; I ask if everything is okay and she answers in the affirmative.
Another six weeks go by and my friend calls me on a Thursday night at about 11:30pm, saying she’s close to my house and asking if she can stop by. I’m naturally curious about what could bring her to my end of town at this time, and immediately tell her to hurry over. Besides curiosity, I am concerned, “What in the world is going on?” I ask as I bring my husband into the picture.
She enters my home, her dress torn almost all the way down in front, her hair dishevelled, bruises on her face. As soon as she sits, she bursts into tears and narrates an ordeal that has spanned about four years. Suffice it to say that my dear friend has been a victim of domestic violence.
As I sit and listen to the horror stories that should only be seen on the silver screen and not in the real lives of people, I ask why she would be quiet for so long; endure for so long; wait till nothing possesses her mind stronger than the consuming fear that she is in danger of losing her life if she continues to remain in the house. Should she have waited for it to degenerate to this point before seeking help? Why would something like this be kept a secret for so long while they merely keep up appearances; giving outsiders the impression that all is well in their little world?
When she had finally been convinced to retire for the night and the house was once again quiet, I thought over my friend’s dilemma. I realized that truthfully speaking, there are many reasons why women keep it from friends and families. It could be as a result of shame, guilt (thinking they are partly to blame), love, the hope that it is a one-time offence, fear that if they tell it would result in more violence and a myriad of other reasons. Often times, it is only when their partner becomes a repeat offender that they ever think of telling someone else and seeking help.
A Secret Revealed
Although it is difficult to tell for sure what goes on behind closed doors, domestic violence and abuse leave some tell-tale signs. Women who are being abused often exhibit fear or anxiety around their partners, they are recipients of harassing phone calls from their partners, they have frequent injuries which they explain away as ‘accidents’, you find them missing work, school or social events. The abuser often isolates his victim by restricting visitors, monitoring phone calls and even restricting access to money.
While some of us may say it is none of your business what happens in other people’s homes, understand that the victim may be your sister or best friend. The victims, apart from the horror they face at the hands of their abusers, are often suicidal too. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! You just may save a life.
To get access to information on organizations within your locality that are able to help women in abusive relationships and victims of domestic violence, kindly send a mail to [email protected]