The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

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October 11, 2012

Domestic violence: Silence not the answer

Editor’s note: The following story was written by domestic violence prevention advocate Clara  Crawford.

We have all heard the old adage “silence is golden.”

When your baby has been crying for what seems like days, and all at once he drifts off to sleep, that is a golden moment of silence.

When you have endured a group of noisy people, the silence you find at home is a golden moment.

The silence of domestic violence is far from golden.

The muted voice of a victim, the helplessness and fear within her and the empty eyes are a tragedy. Death caused by domestic violence is deafening, ringing forever in the ears of family and friends. Lives are destroyed, children are orphaned, parents are left childless and friends are left speechless.

Domestic violence is learned through observation, experience, culture, family community and even peer groups at schools. It is not caused by mental illness but, rather, compounded by it.

One in four women have been or will be abused in their lifetime. Every 15 seconds, a woman is abused, in most instances, by someone she knows. Typically, he is someone who has professed love for her and who has sworn to protect her. Instead, he may knock her down on a regular basis, saying, “You make me do it” or “if you would just listen” or “it’s your fault” or “if you weren’t so stupid.”

There are ways to recognize domestic abuse in your own relationship or in those of others. Here are some of the signs:

• Pressure — Rapid involvement in relationship and pressure for serious commitment;

• Isolation – Tries to keep partner from communicating with family and friends;

• Control— Tries to determine how you dress, your daily routine and even what decisions you’re allowed to make;

• Possessiveness — Trying to control of who you befriend, your interaction with family members or acquaintances and how you spend time off;

• Intrusion — Exhibiting stalking behaviors such as “popping in” to see if you are at home or at work;

• Verbal and physical attacks — name-calling, intimidation, humiliation, shoving, threatening to kill you, abusing your pets and controlling money, cellphones or automobiles.

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