Today’s morning was not the best. It was not because of the usual “I hate Mondays” attitude but because I witnessed a man beat his wife.
I was driving to school trying to pep myself up for the day by listening to some loud weekend music when I looked up and, through my rear-view mirror, saw a man punch the woman next to him in the car behind me.
I could not believe what I had just seen. I was automatically shocked and confounded by the man’s actions. I continued to observe in hopes that maybe I had made it up in my head. Of course, I had not.
The man caressed and kissed the woman lovingly thereafter but then retaliated into aggression again. He punched her once more and then kissed her again. It made me sick. I could not help but wonder what this woman was thinking. She looked angry and was arguing back but she did not try to get out of the car, ask for help, or tried to fight back. It looked like it was something she found acceptable and normal.
Feminist and all, I did not know what to do. I did not know whether I should get off the car, call a cop, wait for someone to help her, or something else that could be of help. No matter how much I know about relationship violence, it was real and it was frightening. It paralyzed me. The world’s mean nature slapped me. I was not angry but sad.
Relationship Violence is never something to be taken lightly. It is a real problem and a very serious subject. More than 1 in 3 women and 1 and 4 men in the United States go through relationship violence in their lifetime, according to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. It is also reported by WebMD that about 2 in 10 teenage girls say that they have been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner and 1 in 10 teenage boys report abuse in dating relationships.
It seems like it is common sense to leave a partner who likes to have control over one but it is not easy. I might not have ever been part of an abusive relationship but the statistics and the brave stories that survivors of relationship violence have shared have taught me that.
When one is in an abusive relationship, the ability go beyond blaming one-self is hard. It takes much effort to move past the idea that one deserves to be abused or beaten. Manipulation can be an incredible obstacle or it can appear to be impossible to leave an overpowering partner.
I will pray tonight that more are given the strength and means to overcome such violence and find safety. I will ask that there be support for women and men trapped in such relationships. I will request that more are able to open their eyes and realize that it is not okay to be treated like possessions and objects. I trust you will do the same.
FYI: There is no right or wrong way to act after witnessing relationship violence but calling 911 is appropriate. If you are in an abusive relationship, know that you are not alone. There are many organizations that are willing to help you. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to seek help. Find it empowering!