Hearts in Faith recently hosted a Self-Defense class. It was empowering for both the body and mind. One major lesson learned is “Don’t give up the fight!’ No matter the obstacles we face in life, we can’t give up. We have to keep fighting.
After the class I began to think about the number of women who have been physically, mentally, and emotionally abused and who may feel trapped in the cycle of violence. Would you be able to recognize a woman who is being abused? What does she look like? How does she behave? What makes her stay? Would you consider her to be weak? What makes her decide to fight and get away? The cycle of violence is one that can easily sneak up on an individual, and it can sometimes be difficult to break free from, unless you fight mentally and sometimes physically.
The cycle of violence includes four main phases: tension building, the incident, reconciliation, and the calm.
Tension Building: During the tension building phase, the victim becomes fearful and feels the need to “walk on eggshells” around the abuser. There is also a breakdown of communication.
The Incident: There is some form of verbal (cursing, name calling, etc.), physical (hitting, kicking, punching, pinching, slapping, use of weapons), or emotional (manipulation, blaming, threats, etc.) abuse. The abuser uses intimidation, displays anger, and blame the victim for the incident.
Reconciliation: The abuser will apologize for the incident, most likely blames the victim for the incident. The abuser may deny that the incident occurred. The abuser may even minimize the incident saying “it’s not that bad.”
Calm: The incident is forgotten and it seems that everything is okay.
Some victims of domestic violence will explain that getting out of an abusive relationship is complicated and hard work. It’s stressful and sometimes fearful. Women may often feel that a man is more powerful physically, and they may feel intimidated to even consider fighting back. So they stay. They endure the abuse, out of fear not necessarily because they are weak. But there are many women who gain enough courage to fight back. They find the mental and emotional strength to fight and to keep fighting. the fight continues because once you get free from the abusive relationship, there are scars and wounds to heal.
Why is it so important to fight? If you are in an abusive relationship you have to fight not only for yourself but for you child/children. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.” Children often imitate the behavior of adults they see. If they see violence, they act out with violence. If you are experiencing domestic violence, you may begin to see changes in your child’s behavior. They may become fearful, shy, resistant, defiant, etc. Children residing in homes with domestic violence may begin imitating negative and violent behavior with siblings or with peers at school. So why should you fight? To protect your children from a future lifestyle filled with violence.
We all deserve peace and safety, and sometimes the journey to peace starts with a fight. Ignite the passion inside of you, reminding you that you are strong. You are fierce. You are fearless. You must be determined to get this peace you long for. Fight for you. Fight for you child. There may be days when you want to just say “forget this. I can’t do it. ” In those moments, remind yourself, DON’T GIVE UP THE FIGHT!
*Please be mindful that Hearts in Faith does not advocate violence but we do advocate for women’s and youth’s empowerment and safety. If you are in a violent situation, don’t’ be afraid to ask for help. Develop a safety plan, contact the police for assistance, and seek professional assistance if needed. If you know a youth ages 12-17 who has witnessed, been a victim or is a perpetrator of violence, feel free to refer them to our 10-week program, Heart Beats: Youth Violence Prevention Program. Contact our Executive Director, Leslie Davis at (314) 529-0214 to schedule an assessment.
Visit http://www.ncadv.org/ for more information regarding domestic violence statistics.