The dangers and effects of domestic violence are way beyond what most people realize. You see, there are no prejudices in relationships where people are consumed by control and obsession. It doesn’t matter if you live in the suburbs or the projects, if you are Hispanic or Caucasian, or if you are a Christian or an Atheist. In fact it does not matter if you are a drug dealer or a police officer. It is imperative for this country to wake up and start understanding that we are at war at home. We are losing more people to domestic violence than soldiers to war. From 2001-2011 there were 1241 combat related deaths caused by the most recent war. If you divide that by ten you would find that approximately 124 soldiers are dying per year. In 2010 there were 180 domestic violence related murders in the state of Florida alone. It is naïve to think or say that it would never affect you or your family because it very well could and if you are a woman or a child there is a greater chance that it will.
Domestic violence is a vicious cycle. It can begin with the parents and violently trickle down to the children and even the grandchildren. I have been affected by domestic violence in more ways than one. The terror of my relations with it began as a child. My mother endured many years of abuse from my biological father and my brother’s biological father. We often believe that our children are too young to realize what is happening in their own homes but this is simply untrue. By the time my brother was eight he was already associating the bad in him to his father and the good in him to our mother. By the age of nine he was responsible for taking care of me after school until my mother could return home from her two jobs. I never imagined that he would ever hurt me, until he did. He did terrible things such as locking me in the closet in the dark and leaving me there for hours. On one occasion I still carry the vivid memory of him holding a butcher knife to my throat and threatening to use it. At the age of twenty my brother was convicted of double homicide and sentenced to death row. This is a prime example of how an innocent child who once witnessed abuse, became the abuser, and then ultimately murdered two innocent people. Once again, if you think that it doesn’t affect you, you are wrong. Unfortunately for me, my experience with my brother would not be the last time I experienced domestic violence.
By the age of twenty I found a wonderful man who really had his life together, or so I thought. He was a NYC detective and a father of two. He took a real liking to me, as I did to him. We started dating, got engaged within the first two years, and began trying to have a baby. By 2008, we were married with our second son on the way. When 2009 came around our relationship had become very different. He had a gambling addiction and was a compulsive liar. I knew that if he did not have his priorities straight by now he never would, so I made the decision to divorce him. We had an agreement to live together until December so I could save the money I needed to move out with our children. A few weeks after moving into my new apartment, I decided to stop by his house in between school and work one day, not knowing he was there. After setting my backpack, keys, and phone down on the table I went for a jog. Upon my return, I opened the front door to find him naked and shaved with a butcher knife. He charged at me with full speed and forced me into the garage. Over the span of about five minutes, he attempted to rape me with a knife to my throat, hit me in the head with a hammer four times and then ultimately set me on fire with gasoline and a lit candle. He was convicted and is serving a life sentence.
Please take the time to think about the effects of domestic violence in our community and even your own home. You may have done everything right but things can still go wrong. It may not happen to you but what if I was your daughter and what if my children were your grandchildren. Be wise and be informed. Spread the news. Pay attention to your children and their relationships. Warn your daughters. Raise your sons to be real men. Consciously teach your children the morals that will create a better world. Most importantly, know that, “We must become the change we want to see”- Mahatma Gandhi
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call Florida Hotline: 1-800-500-1119