October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence affects millions, both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and status. The EAST COBBER presents East Cobb resident Carolyn Davenport’s essay on her domestic abuse experience. If you need assistance or want to talk to someone about domestic violence, the EAST COBBER has listed some local resources.
Domestic abuse can have a dramatic and devastating outcome on a person’s life. I know. I’m a survivor of seven years of abuse at the hands of my former husband. When I finally escaped under police protection, I was a mere shell of the person I had been.
People generally think of domestic abuse as violent attacks, mostly against women. But there is so much more to these situations, and that includes verbal, psychological, emotional and financial abuse. I endured them all. However, with help, I survived and went on to live a wonderful life. Victims need help to escape and survive abuse, whether they ask for it or not.
There is NEVER anything a victim does to deserve abuse by their partner. The one common trait that abusers share is total control and dominance over their victims. The same method of operation is found in sex-traffickers and kidnappers. The best way to not become a victim is to avoid abusers in the first place. There are behaviors that can be recognized early on. Abusers can be romantic and want a quick, permanent relationship, usually within a few months. They will make jealous accusations in the name of love. They want to control their partner’s every move. They can have a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” personality, one minute nice, the next attacking their victim to keep them off-guard. Many times abusers will hold their victims hostage in isolation. Abusers may verbally degrade their victims in public and in private. They may show cruelty to animals and children.
If you are in an abusive relationship, you must plan ahead for your escape. Think of your situation as an approaching storm. You would not wait until a tornado hits your home before you select your secure room. The same goes for escaping abuse. You will not think clearly when you are fleeing your abuser. Here are some tips I found helpful:
- Keep important papers with you, such as your driver’s license, passport and birth certificate.
- Keep cash on hand.
- If you have a car, keep the doors locked.
- You should also watch the rear-view mirror for anyone following you, whether it is the abuser or another car driven by a stranger. That stranger could be a friend of the abuser aiding and abetting him. Should you see the same car for too long, try to evade it and/or drive to the local police station.
- If you get help from the police to escape, they can take you to a local shelter.
- If you have had your abuser evicted, change your home door locks.
- Change your routine so your abuser cannot predict your whereabouts.
On a personal note, I want to implore employers to help employees who are in abusive relationships. Please do not lay off or fire them. They are at a time in their life when they not only need assistance and support from others, but will need their income more than ever should they be forced out of their home. A simple gesture of getting them a hotel room or transportation to a family member’s home could save their life. If it were not for my employers, I probably would not be here today to write this article.
My advocacy for abuse victims comes in the form of motivational speaking. Victims are in every walk of life, whether it be the business world or in college. I am available to try to help educate the public about the traits of abusers and victims, and how the abused can safely find a way to freedom. It is possible. I’m living proof. You just have to want it and get the help you need.
This article was written by Carolyn Davenport and originally appeared in our October issue, on page 26. Click here to view our digital edition.