VOICES: The effects of domestic violence last a lifetime

Awareness — what does that mean? According to the dictionary, awareness means the quality or state of being aware: knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists. People are aware that domestic violence happens and it exists; it is the lack of knowledge and understanding that is the issue. Let me explain.

I am a survivor of domestic violence. Yes, a survivor — not a victim. I have endured black eyes, busted lips, mild concussions, fractured limbs and so much more. I suffered in silence because of the shame associated with being a victim of domestic violence. You hear people say all kinds of things: “I’ll never let a man hit me.” “Any woman that let a man hit her is weak.” “I don’t get why she would stay.” “She’s dumb for letting him hit her.” If it was that simple, do you really think that anyone would elect to remain in the situation?

It is not that simple to just pack up and leave, especially when you share kids with the abuser. Think about it. A person who is not being abused would not be able to just pack up and leave their mate right now if someone told them to. Imagine how it would be for a person who is being abused. In a healthy relationship, there is little to no risk of physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, financial, and/or social media abuse. Yet every second spent with an abuser, all of those things are at risk. It is not the same, nowhere near the same.

Most people think that when domestic violence victims leave, life gets better. That is one of the biggest misconceptions about domestic violence. Leaving the abuser does not equate to the abuse stopping. In most cases, it gets worst. I know for me that is when it got really, really scary. One incident was so severe it resulted in a protection order being put into place. I had the protection order from 2004 to 2019 because incidents kept happening. My abuser passed away, yet the experience of the years of abuse still haunts me. I still have nightmares that cause me to wake up in a cold sweat and tears. I experience severe anxiety and fear when any man, even my own male children, stand over me when I am sitting. It causes me to flashback to those moments of horror, even though I know no one is going to hit me.

The effects of domestic violence last a lifetime. The awareness on the topic is lacking in Dayton. I bet if you ask someone for a domestic violence resource, more than likely they will not have any, unless they were abused. The Artemis Center helped me become a survivor and bring awareness about domestic violence. The Artemis Center and domestic violence resource organizations such as the YWCA can’t do it alone, however. It is for this reason that I created Mentally Expressive, LLC this year. It is an online resource that brings awareness and gives a voice to the victims and survivors of domestic violence.

October is Domestic Violence month. But what about November through September? How can awareness be increased? Increasing awareness all year long and making this uncomfortable topic one in which the victim is not shamed is top priority. Shame the abuser, not the abused. The next priority is ensuring that the victim knows she or he does not have to suffer in silence due to the shame of being abused because they know the person they are reaching out to understands. Encouraging other survivors to speak up and speak out shamelessly against domestic violence will bring awareness from the source. Understanding the minds of the victims will help others become allies to victims, thus leading them to becoming survivors. This will also help eliminate the negative feedback when people discover someone is a victim. That is what Mentally Expressive is striving for. That is how awareness is increased. You can learn more at www.mentallyexpressive.com.

Christa Hullaby’s past life experiences and the passing of her mother in 2020 inspired her to label herself a domestic violence crusader/life coach and start Mentally Expressive, LLC.

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