One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. One in seven men will, as well. Those are heartbreaking and staggering statistics. Our daughters, our sons, our friends and our culture deserve to know a better world where respect and love are stronger than the hatred and control of abuse. We all need love and support in our lives but this need is heightened for those who are healing from abuse.
If instead of repeating patterns, victims can learn signs to look for, how to protect themselves from their abusers, and that there is a community available to them that understands what they are dealing with, positive changes can be made.
Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and we stand stronger than ever before, ready to make a difference. Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence, along with other non-profit organizations, aims to be a beacon of hope to the lost and lonely as they start their lives over after abuse. We hope to give survivors a platform to share their journey with others. Through this, we give thousands a voice. One voice that shines bright within our BTS family is Molly Taylor.
“She stares in the mirror, unable to recognize her reflection. Her eyes are blank but sad. Her brow is furrowed. Her mind is going a mile a minute but also feels like sludge. One question is louder than all the others that are running through her head: HOW?
I left my marriage with just a carry-on suitcase but more emotional baggage than I can explain. I had become isolated, a shell of my former self. I was terrified, lonely and attempting to do the hardest thing I had ever done: start over and heal. Every day was a struggle back then, but now I can breathe and live and love again. I am free. I’m free now because I left that life nearly 800 days ago and did the work of healing from the inside out.”
I believe we can all come together on this ultimate goal: to end the cycle of abuse that exists in our society and to equip those who have experienced domestic violence to leave safely and have healthy, incredible lives on the other side. A rampant problem like abuse takes creative solutions and focused teamwork. In many cases, the first step of healing from domestic violence is telling your story. When one person breaks their silence, it encourages a community of others to do the same and also lessens that grip abuse holds.
Domestic violence is a dark epidemic that permeates our homes, schools, and work places throughout the world, and it is truly our job as human beings to take a bold stand against the issue. Violence against women doesn’t just affect the victim- it affects their whole family, employer, friends, and ultimately the community.
What people do not often understand is that typically domestic violence begins with mental, verbal and emotional abuse for weeks, months, and even years to break down the person to a point of terror and submission in their relationship. The scars you cannot see are the hardest to heal. The judgment of those “on the outside” perpetuates the abuse even after a survivor leaves. This thought process of “just leave” has the potential to change through conversation, education and empowerment, but it will take time and a concerted effort. If you or someone you needs help, please know that we are here for you.
Kristen Paruginog is a Hera Hub member and the founder of Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence. Their mission is to educate communities on the dangers of domestic violence, connect victims and survivors, and assist in the transformation of lives of victims of domestic violence, by providing a personal development retreat, educational programs, and an advocate hotline. Connect with the organization on Twitter: @BTSADV.
From November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10th, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. For more information on this United Nations campaign, follow the conversation on social media #OrangeTheWorld and #16Days.