October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. but how many of your know that it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month? While there’s an increase in domestic violence by women towards men, the majority of domestic violence is against women. And, black women are more than 2 1/2 times more likely to be murdered than white women from domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a serious issue for all women, because it could happen to any of us. I want to tell you a story about a woman I will call Karen. Karen was somewhat of a ‘plain Jane’ who worked a blue collar job. She had a few adult children and was dating a guy off and on for a few years. It wasn’t unusual for them to break up and get back together several times a year; in fact, they seemed to enjoy the intensity of the relationship.
However as time passed, the arguments escalated into pushing, then shoving, then punches. Karen became increasingly afraid and would often say, “I think he’s going to kill me if I don’t leave.”
Her friends were perplexed. What would make her say such a thing about her boyfriend? The answer was simple…he told her as much. Every time they broke up, he told her that if he had ever saw her with another man, he would kill her.
The last time Karen broke up with her boyfriend, she was really afraid. They had gotten into one of the worst physical altercations yet; she walked away with a broken nose, ribs and wrist. While she and her family were terrified, they were grateful that she able to walk away. She didn’t press charges, file a restraining order or anything – she just stopped seeing him.
It was nearly one year before she started dating. The relationship was casual, and Karen began feeling comfortable and looked better than she had in years. Then one day, Karen was out with friends in a nearby town, and they decided to get rooms for the evening since it was too late to drive back. Karen didn’t meet them for breakfast. When they checked her room, she was dead. She had been shot several times in the face, and her ex-boyfriend was found with a self-inflicted wound that ended his life.
Unfortunately, Karen is one of thousands of women who are murdered as the result of domestic violence and her story is all too familiar. I share this story about Karen, because I refuse to let her die in vain. Karen left us with a lesson to learn: become educated and empowered when it comes to protecting ourselves from domestic violence. Knowing how to keep ourselves safe by creating an exit plan, connecting with community resources, and getting professional help can play a large role in keeping us alive.
Do you have resources that may be helpful for others to use? Comments about this blog or domestic violence in general? Feel free to post them below. Also – I challenge every reader to take this conversation beyond the blog, and talk with your daughters, sisters, mothers, brothers, sons, fathers and community members at home, church and school. You may just save a life.