Monday, October 12, 2015

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I just finished reading a Yahoo article about a woman in Texas and her family who were killed by her former abuser. My stomach was in knots while I was reading this. It hit too close to home. It could’ve been me.

This woman was, luckily, able to leave her abuser. He was supposed to go to prison for 25+ years but he plead down and served 5. He then was able to purchase a firearm online. He then took the firearm and murdered his ex-wife and her entire family, including his own son.

I just…I can’t.

This woman was able to leave her abuser – which is hard enough, believe me – only for him to find her and kill her. She could have died earlier in the relationship but she got away. She made the difficult and courageous decision to leave her abuser…and it didn’t help.

This man was able to find and purchase a firearm online. On the internet. Now, I know that some of you reading this will be like “It’s not that easy!” And you’re right. It’s isn’t. There’s still a background check and guns still get sent to federal licensed dealer. But how was this man, a known domestic abuser, able to purchase a gun? Did he find a private seller where he didn’t need a background check and just bought met the seller in an alley somewhere?

Being a woman who has been in previous domestic violence situations, it’s really REALLY scary to know this. According to the FBI, between 2003 and 2012, “34% of all women murdered were killed by an intimate partner.”

Huffington Post published an article titled “30 shocking domestic violence statistics that remind us it’s an epidemic.” It lists things like this: Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women; Nearly 5 million women in the US experience physical violence by a partner each year; Every minute, 20 people are victims of intimate partner violence; 18,00 women have been killed in DV disputes since 2003; 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime; 81% is the percentage of women who are stalked by a current or former male partner who are also physically abused by that partner; and last but not least – women who are victims of DV are 8x more likely to be killed by an intimate partner if there are firearms in the home.

This is unacceptable. The loopholes in gun ownership are unacceptable. The fact that some women have to fear for their lives while in a relationship and after leaving it is unacceptable.

I just can’t get it out of my head that this could have been me. Being a woman who has been in violent relationships, I know how difficult it is to get out. I know how difficult it is to stay away from the abusers. I know how difficult it is to stay safe after you’re out. I wasn’t always so lucky to stay safe afterwards but I’m lucky enough to still be alive.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Please, if you know someone who is in this type of relationship, let them know you are there for them. Look for the signs. Let them know that there is help available. Wear purple to show your support or share your own story. Call on Congress for gun legislation, too. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. If you’re reading this and you need help, please seek it. If you just need someone to talk to, I am always available.