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It is still Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I am going to share more of my story. I am sure my topic for today is ugly. It was ugly when it happened and it is still ugly today. But awareness is essential so it must be told.

2015_10_22 jbaringer

My abuser sat on me pinning me to the floor. By this time, the abuse had moved far beyond pushing, shoving and slapping. I will avoid being extremely graphic, but I was held by my shoulders and my head pounded to the floor as well as beaten in the face until I was knocked senseless. My injuries that day would not heal in days or weeks. I would live the rest of my life in pain, because of damaged vertebrae in my neck. Had we not lived in an apartment with wood floors, I doubt that I would be here to share this. And, of course, this was not the only time I was subjected to trauma of this nature.

It has taken me many years to be able to share my story of abuse, a good part of the reason is the topic of today. I was unwilling to share this story in particular, because it rehashed the hurt and teetered me toward the line of forgiveness vs. bitterness, and by reliving the experience, caused me to spiral into depression. I am not bitter. I have forgiven. I have moved on. But, I still live with pain. Every day.

When the pain got unbearable over the years, I would seek out medical treatment. Medical professionals would ask me, after looking at my screenings, how long ago had I been in a car accident. Of course, early on, I lied. I was still living in the abuse then, and the denial that goes along with it.

I may even be living with other health issues I had not considered came from the abuse. The more I read and the more research I’ve done, the more I believe this to be true. I have suffered with depression, anxiety, dyslexia and memory issues for many years. There is growing evidence that domestic violence victims are suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) at the rate of an NFL player or a U.S. combat solder.

Here’s the thing: if I had been in a car accident, or beaten by a stranger on the street, twenty thousand lawyers would have been knocking at my door trying to get me compensation for my on-going future medical needs.

This doesn’t happen in domestic violence.

In fact, I protected my abuser, after all, it was “my fault” that “he had to do this to me.” And by the time I was trying to break away and get free, my current survival issues were so astronomical, concerning myself with anything other than getting on my feet was irrelevant. Not to mention the cost of legal services for the basics were out of my reach, let alone pursuing him for damages. I could and should write about how my abuser continued to abuse me for years with the legal system, and got away with it.

I don’t want this to sound like a rant. I want you to know the issues are real, they are overwhelming and they are out of control. I hope I have enlightened you a little to the back story; domestic violence victims don’t just walk out of abuse and seamlessly into a new life.

What I am hoping for is that you will be aware and know. I hope you will not only help the victim who is in domestic violence right now, but you will help the ones who aren’t there yet and the ones who have been able to get out. I also hope you would help the abuser find treatment, not just punishment.

  • We need the good ole boy system broken and to get real about abuse and the burden it creates for everyone.
  • We need laws and legal representation.
  • We need people willing to go and forewarn teens and young people.
  • We need interventions.
  • We need shelters and programs.
  • We need help with medical diagnoses, treatment and costs.
  • We need counseling.We need financial support and job training.
  • We need volunteers.
  • We need friends and family.
  • We need assessments, treatments and rehabilitative resources for abusers.
  • We need this to be a topic for more than one month a year, because it isn’t just a one month of the year problem.

If it isn’t obvious, there are many needs, and my hope is that my story, the pain I live with daily, will encourage you to find a need you can meet. Because if you know, you should act.

Let’s end Domestic Violence!