The Battered Woman

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The subject of battered women and domestic abuse is attacking those I hold near and dear, an issue that has been close to my heart for a long time.   A-b-u-s-e of any kind is not acceptable behavior. Some form of action has to be taken when abuse occurs. However, taking action can be scary. First, you must know what you are doing. The most important thing we can do is to pray asking God for his help. Put them into God’s hands asking for His intervention and pray for guidance and discernment not only for ourselves but the victim and the abuser as well. Yes for the abuser as well.

Both the abuser and the victim are held prey to something evil, something we cannot understand. Verbal abuse or emotional control is just as incapacitating as the physical abuse. It just doesn’t leave the visible scars. The control issue happens first, and it is hard to deal with.  Unfortunately often not until it turns to physical abuse do we as onlookers take notice. When my daughter started to pull away, I didn’t understand. I thought it was something either another member of our family or I had done. She pulled further and further away to the point of not even returning phone calls. Eventually, she pulled so far from everyone, she was left isolated and alone in her situation. That is what the abuser wants, total control.

women cowering in fear due to abuse

My family has learned, we no longer allow the isolation to happen, if the “mountain” won’t come to us, we go to the mountain. Caution has to be taken; I pray before I go and make sure I am of a good spirit when I enter into their space, cordial to the spouse.  Do not allow it be an uncomfortable experience. Especially I do not want to have a defiant, judgmental demeanor. I want my daughter to know I am there for her and unconditionally love her; that is a vital role for me to show. I hate what is happening, but I do not hate even the person initiating the abuse.

I want you to understand, I am not an expert on this subject, in fact far from it. Before you say or do anything, please do your research first. A good place to start is The National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Years ago we owned a small arts and crafts business. Two of the women that worked for us were sisters.  The younger of the two, Jenny had two young children and a very abusive husband, both verbally and physically. She had gone to the police several times, only to be told there was not much they could do. They talked to him, warned him. She would try to bring charges against him, which would not stick and then he would just get worse. She was frightened of him and her family afraid for her. She wanted to leave, but that only gave cause for increased anxiety and fear.

Finally with the encouragement from her family, friends and those of us at work she managed to bring a restraining order against him; Jenny and her children moved out of the house and into an apartment of their own. Still, he continued to harass her, stalk her and threaten regularly.

One morning Jenny’s sister called to say Jenny’s husband had broken his way into the apartment the night before killing her and then turning the gun on himself taking his life. This was all done in front of their two children.

We moved from that town a few years later, and I did not keep in touch with Jenny’s sister. I do not know how the children ended up faring; I do know that for the few years while we were there, the scars were deeply embedded in them causing multiple problems.

A few months ago I walked into the lab at my doctor’s office, upon doing so I noticed the necklace the technician was wearing. When I remarked about it, she said would you like to buy one; I sell them for domestic abuse. Those two words turned my head more quickly than the necklace had.  Trying desperately to hold back tears Mandy related the incidents that led up the death of her sister a month previously. Mandy’s sister Stacy Witkowskyi had been in an abusive marriage for some time.  In June of 1212 her husband, in a rage slammed her head repeatedly on the floor causing permanent brain damage. The incidence occurred in the presence of Stacy’s children. The result required her to be placed in a nursing home where she could receive round the clock care. Eventually, her injuries resulted in her death in 2016.  Stacy was only 43 years old when she died leaving behind a grieving family which includes her four children.
Search Google Stacy Witkowski.  Facebook search Stacy Witkowski, Victim of Domestic Violence.

Could either of these deaths have been prevented, I cannot answer that?

I am on the board of Salvation Army and two other outreach organizations in my county, and I know that abuse is prevalent in our society.

When it invades your life, your family it is tragic. The first reaction for a family or friend is to strike back. When we see a loved one with bruises, it is so hard not to lash out; but all we end up doing in most cases is adding fuel to an already raging fire. If our loved one is the one being abused, often she (he) has been brought down verbally to the point that they may deny what has happened. They very likely will blame themselves making excuses that they were the cause, or they don’t want to see their partner accused, they don’t want shame to come to them. At any rate, unfortunately, there is little you can do to change the situation.  The children in these cases are the hardest to watch. They end up being confused. They know what is happening is not normal and yet when they hear “it’s okay – mommy and daddy love each other” how are they supposed to learn what love really is.  When a little girl watches what is happening to her mother, she grows up thinking that is what she deserves. Likewise, a little boy will determine that is the way to treat girls.  They learn what they watch. Parents, you are you child’s greatest teacher, a responsibility given to you when God gave you that child.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Resources for Families

Please, I beg of you if you know someone in an abusive situation go to the following website; learn everything you can about helping. Don’t overreact – that will only push your loved one further away. Pray, Pray, Pray.

The National Abuse Hotline  
On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.

Help a Friend or Family Member
Are you concerned that someone you care about is experiencing abuse? Maybe you’ve noticed some warning signs, including:

  • Their partner puts them down in front of other people
  • They are constantly worried about making their partner angry
  • They make excuses for their partner’s behavior
  • Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive
  • They have unexplained marks or injuries
  • They’ve stopped spending time with friends and family
  • They are depressed or anxious, or you notice changes in their personality

If someone you love is being abused, it can be so difficult to know what to do. Your instinct may be to “save” them from the relationship, but it’s not that easy. After all, there are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships, and leaving can be a very dangerous time for a victim.

[Tweet “Not sure how to help someone dealing with abuse? Check out this 7 tips #domesticabuse”]

Supporting Others Dealing With Abuse

Abuse is about power and control, so one of the most important ways you can help a person in an abusive relationship is to consider how you might empower them to make their own decisions. Additionally, you can offer support in various ways:

  1. ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THEY ARE IN A VERY DIFFICULT AND SCARY SITUATION, BE SUPPORTIVE AND LISTEN-.Let them know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure them that they are not alone and that there is help and support out there. It may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. Let them know that you are available to help whenever they may need it. What they need most is someone who will believe and listen.
  2. BE NON-JUDGMENTAL.-Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. They may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize their decisions or try to guilt them. They will need your support even more during those times.
  3. IF THEY END THE RELATIONSHIP, CONTINUE TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF THEM-Even though the relationship was abusive, your friend or family member may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. They will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship and will especially need your support at that time.
  4. ENCOURAGE THEM TO PARTICIPATE IN ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE OF THE RELATIONSHIP WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY-Support is critical and the more they feel supported by people who care for them, the easier it will be for them to take the steps necessary to get and stay safe away from their abusive partner. Remember that you can call the hotline to find local support groups and information on staying safe.
  5. HELP THEM DEVELOP A SAFETY PLAN-Check out our information on creating a safety plan for wherever they are in their relationship — whether they’re choosing to stay, preparing to leave, or have already left.
  6. ENCOURAGE THEM TO TALK TO PEOPLE WHO CAN PROVIDE HELP AND GUIDANCE-Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or support groups. Call us at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to get a referral to one of these programs near you.  Offer to go with them. If they have to go to the police, court or lawyer’s office, offer to go along for moral support.
  7. REMEMBER THAT YOU CANNOT “RESCUE” THEM-Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately they are the one who has to make the decisions about what they want to do. It’s important for you to support them no matter what they decide, and help them find a way to safety and peace.

2016 WI Deaths
The first domestic violence homicide of 2016 in America happened in Wisconsin.  As of 8/16/16, the Death Toll of Domestic Violence in Wisconsin alone rests at 44 victims and 13 abusers, 1 unknown, for a total of 58 lives lost.  That is a life lost every 3.9 days.  Over a quarter of victims were age 18 or under.  If the trend continues, that will be at least 93 lives lost in our state this year due to domestic violence. By comparison, End Abuse WI recorded 43 domestic violence related deaths in 2014, the most recent year on record.  The highest year recorded was 67 deaths in 2009.

2016 WI Deaths