by Chiletta Walls, PM Director of Creative Development
A custody hearing in a Florida courtroom on a hot Wednesday afternoon. A gathering of attorneys, social workers and one attentive judge. My former husband listening in from North Carolina via conference call. His daughter’s mother seemingly late for court.
Then the word came. She would not be showing up for court that day, or any other day. She had been brutally murdered by her husband, who’d shown up at her community college job that morning with a knife.
After the initial shock, the resignation of what had happened set in among everyone present. The custody hearing had been initiated, and my husband’s involvement requested because of reports of domestic abuse in the home. The couple had 4 children, including my stepdaughter. Her husband was a career veteran with a history of controlling and terrorizing his wife. When the courts stepped in to protect the children, he took that terror to the next level.
This is domestic violence. A cycle of abuse that rarely begins with the battery incident, or in this case, the loss of life. Domestic abuse often begins with other types of abuse – emotional, psychological, verbal, etc. that is trivialized or minimized by the abuser and/or the victim. If we’re paying attention, there are patterns of behavior, often coupled with evidence of mental health issues, such as depression, PTSD or anxiety that we can point to as red flags and the need for possible intervention or escape.
Shame and fear often keep women from calling for help, but men can be victims too. According to www.domesticshelters.org, almost half of all men (48.8%) have dealt with some sort of psychological aggression by an intimate partner.
Breaking the cycle begins with recognizing the signs of relationship abuse and knowing where and how to get help. Sometimes the signs are obvious, but some are more subtle. Learn more here: Warning Signs of Abuse.
Whether you are the victim or the abuser, talking with a mental health professional can help with identifying and overcoming the behaviors and patterns that often lead to domestic violence, and can serve a vital role in the healing process. Call Preventive Measures today at 484-225-4323 (PA) or 202-563-7632 (DC), to schedule your appointment. We’re ready to listen.
Click the links below for some additional steps you can take if you or someone you care about is experiencing domestic violence or abuse.
- If you are a victim of domestic abuse, call 911, call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233), or visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline website.
- If someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse: Find Ways to Start a Conversation
- Create a Safety Plan – A personalized, practical plan to improve your safety while experiencing abuse, preparing to leave an abusive situation, or after you leave.
- Identify and Connect with Local Resources and Advocates
- Consider Getting Legal Help (Protective Orders and Restraining Orders)