By Nancy Black
“Purple,” my teenager announced as they went into my closet. “I need something purple to wear tomorrow to school.” I asked why and was told it was to honor one of their teachers who had been killed in a domestic violence attack. “We’re all wearing purple tomorrow to bring awareness to domestic violence,” my high schooler added.
Purple. That’s the “color” of domestic violence, as pink is representative of breast cancer research. I remember wearing red ribbons on our lapels during the 80s and 90s to remember all those who had died of AIDS. I guess each disease or cause gets its own color. But some have to share the same month of “awareness.” As I mentioned last week, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but it is also Domestic Violence Awareness month.
My student’s teacher died because she was beaten to death by her estranged husband. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is defined as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.”
When I was in my twenties, my best friend met a guy named Michael. Michael adored my friend and made her feel like he was the only one in the world who knew and understood her. A police detective friend of mine told me Michael was a “love bomber,” a man who comes in and smothers a woman with love, separates her from her friends and family, and eventually controls every aspect of the woman’s life.
My friend moved with Michael to Arizona and I didn’t hear from her again for two years. When she did finally call me — at 2 a.m. one Monday — she was at the downtown Dallas Greyhound station. My mother and I picked her up and she only had the clothes on her back.
My friend explained to us that Michael never let her leave the house, use the phone or have any money of her own. She had managed, throughout those two years, to save enough money in a jar she buried in her backyard to buy a one-way ticket back to Dallas.
A familiar domestic violence quote is: “She stays because the fear of leaving is greater than the fear of staying. She will leave when the fear of staying is greater than the fear of leaving.”
In the book “Life Beyond Toxic People,” the author states, on average, it takes a woman seven tries to leave an abuser and stay gone.
Domestic violence has become a greater concern during stay-at-home orders meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, do something! For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). And, if you can, donate to your local domestic violence shelter, be it money, furniture, clothes or toiletries, etc.
Love isn’t supposed to hurt.