Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief
As we got ready for our stories about domestic violence this month, I read a lot of statistics—and none of them were pleasant: “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced physical abuse from an intimate partner in their lives,” “1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetimes,” “1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.”
Think about that: 1 in 3 women. That’s you, your mom and your sister. Or you, your mom and your best friend. That’s one of the three female editors sitting in the office right now. Picture any group of three women that you’re close to and imagine any one of them being a victim of domestic abuse. Picture your best friend’s significant other hitting her because she won’t sleep with them, or picture your dad hitting your mom because she didn’t make his favorite dinner. Does that make you want to scream and cry at the same time? Because that’s what it did for me.
Now remember that domestic abuse affects men, too—1 in 4 men to be specific. That’s your boyfriend, your brother, your dad and your best guy friend. That’s the four guys who live down the hall from you and helped you move in. That’s your best friends’ boyfriends. Pick four men that you care about and imagine one of them being hit by their girlfriend for talking to another female acquaintance or by their boyfriend who says they need to “man up.” Is that almost too much? Because it was for me.
And the stats only get harder to think about. 1 in 5 women? Add two more women you know, and, statistically, one of them will be raped. 1 in 15 children? That’s about 2 in every Kindergarten class.
Now, there are other factors that play into these situations; a person’s socioeconomic status, location, age, race and past, for example, all have some influence, but sometimes it doesn’t matter. That’s what I’ve learned this month. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good of a person you are. Sometimes you find yourself in bad situations at no fault of your own. Because it is never the victim’s fault, and no one should ever be made to feel that they “deserved” their abuse or that someone who actually loves you would ever hit you or belittle you or take advantage of you.
It’s a sobering experience to read these statistics and to realize that you probably know someone who has been abused or someone who has been abusive—and to realize that it could be you or someone you care about. And I don’t have many answers as to how to prevent that kind of abuse, other than to know your worth and surround yourself with people who also know your worth and will step up for you if you ever forget, even for a second, that you deserve every wonderful thing in this world and every bit of happiness that comes with life.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, know that you’re not alone. There are ways out. For more information on the national issue of domestic violence, visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence‘s website. For local assistance, Second Chance, Inc. has a branch in Anniston and can be contacted 24 hours a day by calling locally at 256-236-7233, toll-free at 1-800-650-6522 or by their RAINN hotline at 1-800-656-4673.