Good morning. As I was getting ready for church on Sunday I watched an article on the TV news about the closing of a battered women’s shelter in Dallas County. The funding for this place dried up in this economy. The newscast was an effort to draw attention to the plight of this facility, hoping for contributors. Now the closing of this place doesn’t affect me personally for two reasons. 1) I am no longer in a relationship where I am being battered and 2) I am not eligible for their service because I do not live in the service area for this organization.
The news did affect me emotionally. My ex was a master at being a psychological batterer. As far as being a physical batterer, he was not the worst. The two events that I still remember most vividly are the night he threw a large coffee mug straight at my face. Fortunately, I had my glasses on so the cup just broke my glasses and I received a small cut on my cheek. When I went to the optometrist the next day for a new pair, he asked me more than once what happened. I was too embarrassed to tell him about my husband. I felt too trapped and saw no way out. I experienced the meaning of chagrin.
The other event was major. I have talked about it before. He had me down on the floor and was choking me in his alcoholic rage. At that point I was ready to let him kill me. I was totally defeated. At the last few seconds before I would have passed out, thoughts of my four year old son came into my head and I knew I couldn’t leave my son with my ex. I couldn’t let him have that kind of life, so I called out to a cousin who was visiting us. That was enough to break the rage and I lived.
Women’s shelters are desperately needed in every community. As the economy goes south, the amount of battery cases rises. Men take out their hatred and frustration in general on those they perceive as weaker and less able to defend themselves, their wives and children. Now before my male fans remind me that men are battered also, I am fully aware of that. There needs to be help on both sides. That being said…
The mission of this particular battered women’s shelter, Brighter Tomorrows, as so all the other shelters, is to help break the cycle of violence. I’ve seen several programs over the years on this topic. They all desperately point out the same thing: families are in crisis. Children are learning that violence is an acceptable method of dealing with problems. The police, in spite of sensitivity training, are still in many areas using a hands off mentality to domestic situations. Many times their point is valid. Handling domestic violence has been in some cases a dangerous occupation.
In the 70s and 80s police responded to only between 7-15% of domestic violence calls. Had I called, there was little likelihood of there even being a response. Now the response level is up to approximately 50%. That tells me we still have a long way to go in our attitude towards batterers and domestic abuse.
In the 1970s, it was widely believed that domestic disturbance calls were the most dangerous type for responding officers, who arrive to a highly emotionally charged situation. This belief was based on FBI statistics which turned out to be flawed, in that they grouped all types of disturbances together with domestic disturbances, such as brawls at a bar. Subsequent statistics and analysis have shown this belief to be false.  
Statistics on incidents of domestic violence, published in the late 1970s, helped raise public awareness of the problem and increase activism.   A study published in 1976 by the Police Foundation found that the police had intervened at least once in the previous two years in 85 percent of spouse homicides.  In the late 1970s and early 1980s, feminists and battered women’s advocacy groups were calling on police to take domestic violence more seriously and change intervention strategies.  In some instances, these groups took legal action against police departments, including in Oakland, California and New York City, to get them to make arrests in domestic violence cases.  They claimed that police assigned low priority to domestic disturbance calls. 
The most common police response had been to do as little as possible. The police felt that physical violence within the home was exempt from the laws governing street assaults. Mental health experts agreed that the police should not make arrests. Instead, they suggested that officers use counseling and mediation to prevent further violence.
Counseling would not have helped my marriage. I know. We tried. He went to see a couselor twice and then saw no more value in going. We also tried a Marriage Encounter weekend. That helped for about a month then things went back to being the same.
I feel fortunate that I was not battered physically to the point where I would have needed to escape with my son for our lives. But there are women out there who do have to do that. There should be as many places as necessary for them to escape to. If you are in such a situation, do what I was not emotionally able to do: get out. One word of caution however comes from the organization Brighter Tomorrows:
Safety alert: When you visit websites, information about the sites you have visited is stored on the computer you are using, and this information cannot always be safely cleared. If you are afraid your internet and/or computer usage might be monitored, please use a safer computer, call the Brighter Tomorrows hotline, and/or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
I was not aware that October was Violence Awareness Month. There is a video on this site that will donate $1.00 to a fund for every person who clicks on the site and watches it. The speaker was a survivor who was nearly killed. Her family lived in the affluent area of her town. Domestic violence is not just the province of the poor and young. It affects women of all ages in all levels of society. If you think because you have married a Christian man or you have become pregnant all is well, think again. Please, if you do nothing else, help the group’s fund by clicking on the video. Namaste. Attic Annie