I am going to call her "Jen". In a valiant plea, Jen wanted to lend her name, her voice and her soul to my rinky dink idea. After dusting off my legal 'hat' I concluded it is Jen's best interest is to remain anonymous. I know her perpetrator is angry and I did not want to provoke further altercations. However, the following snapshots are all genuine . They are hers. This is what happened behind closed doors. #wingsprogram
1:3 women are victims of domestic abuse. (I am not excluding the guys-statistics point out about 15% of men are victims of domestic abuse). This means that 5 million innocent children, see with their very own innocent eyes-the people they love and trust most in their world beating the crap out of each other. And the cycle continues.
The last time Jen got the crap beaten out of her was around the holidays of 2018. I answered the phone to guttural cries. It was the first time I knew of the abuse. I always knew Jen as a positive girl, a fantastic mom and a loyal wife. For the past decade, I always sensed there was a cloud of dissolution hovering around her marital union. I rationalized it as typical struggles. After years of marriage, there are the peaks and valleys. I know this from first hand experience. It takes a lot of effort to keep the sparkle in a marriage.
My brain reaches into it's farthest depths, trying to recall any signs that my friend was in distress. I never saw bruises, blood or evidence of confrontation. Her husband was a known entity in my life for years. Yes, he was insecure and lacked immaculate hygiene-but a wife beater he was not.
Jen, too, didn't even recognize the severity of the abuse and likened it a dark part of her marriage. This is a fantastic tool we as women have mastered--the ability to justify and compartmentalize. ( Compartmentalize the abuse--it is not all the time-he said he was sorry--flowers, dinner....)
Jen lived in suburbia. Jen had friends. Jen socialized. Jen parented. Everything seemed normal. Was it normal for Jen to be called a "piece of sh*t"? Was it normal to be told that if she ever left no one would ever want to f*ck her?". Was it normal for her spouse to keep her up at night with P.O.W. type tactics?
This is how her husband did it (Vietnam Style)-- deprive her of sleep. He would stare at her all night and threaten to kill her. Again, she compartmentalized (her kids deserve a family). Don't we all dream of a happily ever after? So she was beaten again. Mocked another time. She was denied funds -- by controlling her finances-this limited her ability to navigate a daily routine.
SO WHY DID I NOT KNOW? WHY DID HER PARENTS NOT KNOW? WHY? WHY?WHY?
I kick myself. I feel, at my true essence, I am a decent friend. I remember birthdays, I engage in mindful conversations. I try to feed my friendships. And still I did not know. I did notice, however, that I heard less and less from Jen over the years. We had a typical routine of chatting about once a week--and then the pattern changed. Jen had become peculiarly unavailable. Her husband began isolating her. Her husband's vengeful rants began to seep into her pores. She actually started to believe that no one liked her and that she would be nothing without him. So she was silent. Victims often become eerily silent. This is because shame is a good motivator to keep secrets like this hidden and locked behind closed doors.
81% of women and 35% of men who experienced rape, stalking, or physical violence by an intimate partner reported significant short- or long-term impact such as post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and injury.
4% of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the last 12 months.
Only 1 out of 3 people who are injured during a domestic violence incident will ever receive medical care for their injuries.
Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to police.
Men who are victimized are substantially less likely than women to report their situation to police.
SHE FINALLY LEFT- Jen was coming home from work one afternoon and there was a pit in her stomach. Things have not been good and her husband. He was more pissed off today than he usually was. He was waiting for her outside when she pulled her car into the driveway. Jen was met with vulgarity and a fist. He wrapped his hands around her neck and she couldn't breathe. She felt that she was going to pass out. However, she mustered a scream that her neighbors responded. And the police were called. Husband thought he was smart and quickly ran inside the home and scratched his face. The police arrived to a chaotic scene. Nothing was done. The police told Jen that if she pressed charges, Child Protective Services would be called and the kids would be taken away. So today, the perpetrator, the man she once loved, remains free of any consequences. I am calling, no begging you, my dearest readers, friends and community to help make a small difference. The week of Mother's Day, if you post a picture on your Facebook page (or any social media page) and use the hashtag #realmecampaign, and tag Wings Program, Julie Drost Lokun or AH Laser Aesthetics., you can join me in my efforts to stop the shame.
Together, we are numbers. As numbers we can blitz the net with our pictures, our testimony, our brotherhood. I hope we can shelter these victims and revitalize their spirit.
I am working with WINGS PROGRAM -www.wingsprogram.com , a not-for profit group that helps assists domestic abuse victims. They provide safe homes and services for the Chicago land area and beyond. If a woman or man is beaten, they open their doors to the broken families. They provide a sense of normality for the children. They provide shelter, food and support for a human who is at the lowest point in their life.
I promise you "Jen"--these bruises will not be in vain. xo-Jules
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