By Shirley Brown, Screening and Application Specialist at Elder Law of Michigan
Domestic violence is one of the most horrific crimes a person can be subjected to. The individual who commits the crime quite often goes unpunished. Perpetrators often hide their behavior from the public and seem to be ordinary upstanding people; pretending to be a loving and caring partner in public, while at home being cruel, vicious, and demanding.
No one should ever have to be physically and mentally abused, or subjected to something as life-threatening and damaging as domestic violence. However, evil and sick individuals are subjecting our family members, sisters, daughters, nieces, nephews, and even their wives and girlfriends to inhumane treatment. These perpetrators are cowards who prey on those that love them and look to them for protection and safety. The perpetrators emotionally overpower and hold their loved ones captive by making them feel less than human, unloved, and/or unwanted by anyone other than the perpetrator. Fear can keep a person from thinking clearly and often numbs them, keeping them from taking care of themselves.
The behavior of most predators is to scare, intimidate, humiliate and isolate, to control another person. Types of abuse may be physical violence, sexual, emotional, psychological, and/or economical. Often abusers use a combination of these types of behaviors at any one time within the same intimate relationship. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.”
Often victims have reported these crimes to the police, gone through the court system, and left the perpetrator. These actions have not always saved the life of the victim, and often the victims are stalked by their abuser even after reporting abuse. More must be done to prevent these crimes. Learn not to give your love to someone if they cannot return it with the same intensity.
Being afraid and feeling alone, not knowing which way to turn or how to ask for help can be a dreadful position to be in. Family and friends need to take a more active role in caring for and observing when a situation seems to be out of control for someone they love who needs protection. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to see if you can assist with getting your loved ones out of an abusive and dangerous situation. Our actions could strengthen those that need it most.
By acknowledging the fact that domestic violence exists, you may give the victim the power to speak out and seek help. Together we can change the national conversation, expose those that commit such crimes, and show them that we are not going to bury our heads and ignore these tragic situations.
October has been declared Domestic Violence Awareness Month by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The first annual Domestic Violence Rally was held on October 1, 2019, at the Capitol building in Lansing. This rally was attended by many survivors, elected officials, families of homicide victims, prosecutors, law enforcement, and many concerned community organizations.
At the Domestic Violence Rally, organizer Tanesha Ash-Shakoor expressed the need to call attention to and support the survivors, getting the community informed, engaged, and prepared to act. Some of the resources needed to help victims are shelters, childcare, treatment, education, job opportunities, clothing, consolation, comfort, and advocates that are supportive. Tanesha states that the work continues with Domestic Violence Candlelight Vigils throughout the month.
How do we avoid domestic violence? What can we do to prevent domestic violence? A starting point could be to educate high school students on dating and marriage and what to expect from a loving relationship. A person who trusts no one now once trusted someone too much. Society must learn to address domestic violence better. If you need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.
Shirley L. Brown is a member of the Economic Security Team and has been a member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since 2011. As a member of the Economic Security Team, Shirley focuses on assisting clients with benefits applications such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid.