“Isn’t domestic violence different than having been raped? Don’t they experience different emotions and healing?” This was a question posed to me today at lunch.
Among abuse the ‘act’ perpetrated can be different: ie: physical violence, forced sexual contact, psychological mind play, verbal degrading, neglect, etc, however, the lasting effect of surviving any form of abuse is universal. The wound of feeling unworthy, shame and guilt is the same no matter what form of abuse created it.
The group I was with happened to be some ladies in the area that I’d never met with before and I was happy to have the question because in truth, I’m sure many people assume in helping one to heal it has to be separate. We focus on Domestic Violence separate from Date Rape, and yet, if it is the boyfriend or date doing the rape it is considered violence (domestic if they are dating)…and more often than not a young woman in a violent relationship or marriage that is being beaten, psychologically controlled and manipulated is also at some point in the relationship being raped by their boyfriend or spouse.
The verbal, mental and emotional abuse is often the underlying factor to nearly every form of abuse. Even with neglect…the lack of love, lack of care, lack of emotion and affirmation is verbal, and emotional abuse.
The effects of abuse last beyond the initial fist to cheek, push, slap, degrading comment, humiliation, or any moment of a forced sexual act or even innuendo. The effect is the insecurity that affects life-altering decisions. The effect is the lack of self-respect brought on by the guilt. The effect is the fear that is triggered by a word, touch, scent or situation.
The effect is same for a four year old American caucasian or black girl raped by their grandfather as it is for a four year old African caucasian or black girl raped by the militia. The effect is the same for a thirty year old hispanic woman beaten daily emotionally and physically by her husband as it is for an asian woman being demeaned and degraded, set aside by her husband. The effect is the same for a young boy molested by his next door neighbor as it is for a young boy being sold on the streets. Or a son beaten and verbally broken down into submission by his father as it is for boy excessively bullied at school.
The effects of abuse are universal which is why it is so important to spread the awareness of what it does to each of us. To get more and more survivors to talk about it and be heard so that generations to come can be aware, know the effects and how they affect a person, therefore empowering them to walk (or run) from a situation before it can take place…or in the least know to get help immediately if found in a similar situation.
Another woman asked, “How do you listen to so many stories every day especially when you are a survivor? Doesn’t it affect you negatively?”
The truth is this, hearing others stories and how they have lived through them and survived them first gives me continued hope and courage because sitting before me is a person who has lived through hell. They are still here and they are wanting to live. Second, the offense fuels the fire of my calling. To speak out, to help others speak out, to spread awareness and offer hope. And finally, I want nothing more than to see the person before me succeed in reclaiming their worth and take back their life. To not only survive but thrive beyond what was ‘done or said’ to them.
I left the lunch feeling a bit more invigorated and encouraged because by having to explain what I do it was as if God wanted me to hear what I needed to say.
If you have any questions about Hopeful Hearts Ministry or if you know of someone who could benefit from our ministry please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.