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What Domestic Violence Actually Looks Like

by Heidi Videto

It has been some time since I posted here. I only post when I feel I need or want to. The subject must be important enough to me to want to share my thoughts with the few of you who may read this.


I am pretty sure that none of you know what exactly I do for work. Well, one small part of my job is redacting audio and video for the Police Department. Now that we have body cameras and a new recording system that small part of my job has increased. With that I now see and hear more than I ever did before. This week as I was redacting a case my gut hurt and I felt sick. I was listening to a woman tell officers all the reasons why her former partner would never follow through on threats to her life. All I could think about was Mary. All I could think about was all these excuses mean nothing when one event can end your life. One event that will forever change your friends and family’s life. One event that you never thought would really happen will destroy you and your loved one’s forever. 

According to the latest (not very current unfortunately but trending higher) statistics show;

*72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner with 94% of the victims being female.

* 2 out of 5 female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner.

* Every day in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

* 40-70% of murder victims in the U.S. were killed by their husbands or boyfriends, often within an ongoing abusive relationship.


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Ironic that it shares a month with Breast Cancer Awareness Month… both take way too many females lives daily, monthly, yearly.


Domestic Violence is a pattern of one person trying to dominate or control another person. This involves different types of abusive ways. It is a repetitive process of abuse where the perpetrator gets hold of the victim in a consistent manner. DV comes in different forms and ways.

  • Physical Abuse: Pushing, kicking, strangling, or any other physical violence.
  • Sexual Abuse: forceful sex, sexual assaults, sexual threats, and many others.
  • Emotional Abuse: Threats, manipulation, lies, stalking, name-calling, and several more.
  • Economic Abuse: Denying access to bank accounts and other financial platforms.

 

 

The emotional and economic abuse is what I believe most women who are being manipulated do not see as domestic violence. I never really did. Until it hit me. Literally. I grew up in an emotionally abusive household where all my earnings were taken from me as soon as I received them so it was obvious that this is what I would see as normal behavior once I left the home. String after string of bad relationships all had one thing in common. Verbal abuse, manipulation, gaslighting and my economic ruin. Seems like something easy enough to live with and easy enough to make excuses for the other person. My go too was that he still loved me so I knew it would never get violent. Then it does. I was lucky. It was a strike to the face that landed me with a swollen eye and embarrassment, but it was what I needed to walk away. But what if it hadn’t been? What if that strike hit my temple? What if that strike left me les than I was before the incident? The point being…. He may not have been violent in the past but that does not mean he can’t or won’t be.

 



Yes, I am aware this happens to men too. I am not here to talk to them. I am here to talk to the women in my life and the women that “were” in my life.

2021 was supposed to be an amazing year. A year of traveling, racing and adventuring with the bff and B. Instead, our world came crashing down on us when what B and I feared most for her came true. Someone (who shall forever remain nameless by me) took her life.  Someone who showed all the warning signs of potential violent behavior. Someone who was a master manipulator (he even manipulated me several times). Someone who maybe could have been stopped but then the pandemic and lock downs hit, and his own country locked everyone out. 

All the same excuses I and many other women have made were also uttered by one of the seemingly strongest women I have ever known. “It’s all fine.”, “He wouldn’t hurt me”, “He just needs therapy”, “He is leaving this week”, “He is just really needs me”.

A week before the coward took Mary’s life, I again mentioned my fear for her safety. Something I had been concerned about since May of 2019. My fear that the behaviors I had seen from him in the past were so close to blind rage that it was very possible he could snap. The fear that all his attempts at keeping her from leaving him were faked and a desperate ploy to get her to stay with him. The fear that he was manipulating her emotionally and using his mental illness to guilt her into staying with him. See you can see the physical abuse (sometimes), but the emotional abuse is easy to cover unless it is witnessed by someone else. And she was great at covering up her feelings and emotions when she wanted to.

Domestic homicides often occur after there have been many chances to intervene and abuse and violence have escalated. The abused — the one who must initiate a cry for help — often doesn’t want to participate in a legal process that will harm the abuser. I have put myself through hell wishing I had dragged her back here and forced her to get away from him. But in the end, I believe it would not have probably helped. The only way this situation would end well was if he left and that was never going to happen. Especially during a pandemic.

 

In the U.K., Jane Monckton-Smith researched IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) and relationships. She identified an 8-stage pattern of abusive men who eventually murder their domestic partners. Not all abusive relationships end in homicide obviously. Many women get out. Many women jump into a new abusive relationship. However, after ready her study I know I could check off the 1st five steps in multiple past relationships I had. I will not speak for Mary on this.

 

*A pre-relationship history of stalking or abuse by the perpetrator.

*The romance developing quickly into a serious relationship.

*The relationship becoming dominated by coercive control.

*A trigger to threaten the perpetrator's control - for example, the relationship ends, or the perpetrator gets into financial difficulty.

*Escalation - an increase in the intensity or frequency of the partner's control tactics, such as by stalking or threatening suicide. 

*The perpetrator has a change in thinking - choosing to move on, either through revenge or by homicide.

*Planning - the perpetrator might buy weapons or seek opportunities to get the victim alone.

*Homicide - the perpetrator kills his or her partner, and possibly hurts others such as the victim's children.

 

I am not sure what I am trying to say here other than if you or anyone you know is going through ANY abuse, PLEASE do not believe it couldn’t happen to you or them. It can. It did. And those of us left behind who witnessed the lead up to this will forever be changed. Domestic Violence does not discriminate against sex, race, ethnicity. It happens next door not just in that “bad neighborhood”. It happens to the affluent and the poor. It happens to any sex by any sex. Do not assume you know what it looks like.

 

If someone you know is the victim

*Be empathetic

*Don’t judge them

*Know the warning signs

 

This still seems to be a taboo subject. I get it. It is messy, personal, emotional and awkward to talk about especially for outwardly strong women. We don’t take shit. But we do. Sometimes in small doses and sometimes in heaping handfuls. I hope you never have to feel the guilt and sorrow I feel for having not done enough. I will take it with me to my grave. If we as a collective can just stop this from happening to another’s mother, daughter, sister, aunt, BFF then we win. We just must see it and talk about it. Make it awkward. It will never be easy, but it will be worth it. And if it works you will have no idea what could have been.

To read more of Heidi's blogs, visit her website here





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