Free from Harm

Romans 13:10
Romans 13:10

The morning sun rises over the mountain and it will be a beautiful day again. Love abounds in my house, so it should be a good day right? Except for one thing; a classmate from college was murdered. The news must have covered it late last night because that was when I found out. A friend on Facebook posted it. When I went to the person’s page, someone alluded that the act may have been one of domestic violence. Another person posted more on the war on guns. Here’s a sad reality; if this was an instance of domestic violence, the guy would have killed her even if he had not accessed a gun.

On the website of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) the 2015 statistics show that 20 people per minute are murdered by someone they loved. Domestic violence is one of the more hideous crimes to me because of the implications on trust and how it affects the way in which we see “love”. Also, domestic violence is a crime that we are afraid to talk about, or embarrassed to talk about. Why? Who knows? Perhaps it’s because we all know someone who has been abused. Perhaps we have been abused too and don’t want anyone to know it.

Yet, one of the reasons that this is still a major crime is because we are not brave enough to talk about it in our churches, our families, or to our friends. It’s time to talk. We must stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves: for those who have died before us and sadly, for those who are now in abusive situations or will be in abusive situations. I know that I’ve not talked much about the things that happened to me because I was embarrassed that I could be so dumb. My friends always said that I was naïve and too trusting. Being in two different abusive relationships made me feed dumb. After a LOT of counseling and the support of amazing friends, I got the help I need. Still, I was more fortunate than many because I was not murdered. My lovely wife still has to deal with the fears instilled in me in those years however.

Some important facts:

  • Stalking is illegal in all 50 states. Often, domestic violence first begins as stalking of some sort. If you are being stalked, please visit the Stalking Resource Center to find how to get help in your state.
  • Domestic violence has warning flags. The NCDVA lists these examples of abusive tendencies include but are not limited to:1
    • Telling the victim that they can never do anything right
    • Showing jealousy of the victim’s family and friends and time spent away
    • Accusing the victim of cheating
    • Keeping or discouraging the victim from seeing friends or family members
    • Embarrassing or shaming the victim with put-downs
    • Controlling every penny spent in the household
    • Taking the victim’s money or refusing to give them money for expenses
    • Looking at or acting in ways that scare the person they are abusing
    • Controlling who the victim sees, where they go, or what they do
    • Dictating how the victim dresses, wears their hair, etc.
    • Stalking the victim or monitoring their victim’s every move (in person or also via the internet and/or other devices such as GPS tracking or the victim’s phone)
    • Preventing the victim from making their own decisions
    • Telling the victim that they are a bad parent or threatening to hurt, kill, or take away their children
    • Threatening to hurt or kill the victim’s friends, loved ones, or pets
    • Intimidating the victim with guns, knives, or other weapons
    • Pressuring the victim to have sex when they don’t want to or to do things sexually they are not comfortable with
    • Forcing sex with others
    • Refusing to use protection when having sex or sabotaging birth control
    • Pressuring or forcing the victim to use drugs or alcohol
    • Preventing the victim from working or attending school, harassing the victim at either, keeping their victim up all night so they perform badly at their job or in school
    • Destroying the victim’s property

 

As I grieve the loss of my friend, I cannot do anything besides pray for her family and their loss. In case she was a victim of domestic violence, I decided to write this because it is something I can do. Even if you are in an abusive relationship, it is not the end of the world. The sites listed above offer places and resources where one can get help. Talk to your clergy member and if that person doesn’t help, go find someone else. New Choices has a 24 hour hotline you can call at 937-498-7261 if you need someone to talk to right now.

Don’t think that domestic violence limits itself to straight couples either. I know many people (including myself) who have lived in these situations. I call domestic violence in a LGBTQIA relationship the “Secret within a Secret” because if a person is closeted, they have to remain silent in two ways or their lives are endangered.  Love and relationships are meant to build us up, not tear us down. You can have a better life without being harmed!

New Choices - Get Help!
New Choices – Get Help!

I know this because I finally got the help I needed after losing almost everything. When I moved back to North Carolina, I thought I would never be happy again, but at least I would be near friends. My second and last abusive partner convinced me to move West to have more power over me. The first abusive partner stole everything from me and threatened me with a gun if I told anyone. She was later imprisoned for two years on fraud, but I had not told because I did not want to be shot with the unregistered gun that threatened me. There’s more, but it is still too hard for me to write out. The pain so real. The damage done. You too can get help. Hope still abides. Don’t give up. Get out!

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by Marie Fortune
Excellent Resource
Clergy Resources Here
Clergy Resources can be found at the Faith Trust Institute. Click above photo.

 

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JRobin Whitley

Robin is an artist living in Western NC writing from the mountains. She lives with her little black dog, Birdie. Life is amazing! Robin received her undergraduate degree in music from Pfeiffer Univeristy and her Masters of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. She plays guitar, mandolin, and piano.

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