Did you know that every 15 seconds a woman is beaten by her spouse or lover, and that at least one in every three women has been abused during her lifetime? These statistics blew my mind, but why was I surprised? I was that one in the every three women. I never thought in a million years that I would wear the title of a battered woman. I didnt ask for it, but somehow I felt like I deserved it.
As a child, I watched my father abuse my mom while I sat in front of the TV eating Captain Crunch cereal one Saturday morning. At the time I didnt think it was a big deal. He used to beat her every Saturday morning right before Tom and Jerry Cartoons came on. My brother and I used to take turns, turning up the volume on the TV to drown out my mothers weeping.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month all across the country. With the rise of domestic violence in our communities, I felt it was imperative that I share these facts. In a national survey of more than 6,000 American families, 50% of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children. I guess that explains why my father started roughing me up too.
I was only four at the time, just a baby, so I really dont remember the actual event. The funniest thing is, years later I cant seem to forget. My older brothers and sisters used constantly tease me about what had happened. They said that my father came home drunk one night and I was crying, so my father got fed up with the noise. My father then walked into my room picked me up out of my baby bed and slammed my helpless body to the floor.
I grew up and became an insecure teenage girl who felt unworthy of being treated with value and respect. Some might call it low self esteem, but either way the damage was done. Like most teenage girls, I eventually started dating. It wasnt long before I received my first black eye at the tender age of 14. One of the boys in my neighborhood got really angry at me because I wouldnt have sex with him, so he punched me in the eye. I told my mom I ran into a door at school, but she didnt believe me. I guess because she had already used that same door as an excuse for the black eyes she received from my father.
In a domestic violence youth survey, it states that one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. 8% of high school age girls said yes when asked if a boyfriend or date has ever forced sex against your will. 40% of girls age 14 to 17 reports knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
Now that I am a parent myself, researching and learning these statistics was very disturbing for me. I think that when I was a victim, a battered woman, I thought it was just happening to me. Now I know it could very well happen to my daughter - or yours for that matter. Having learned all this information, I was determined to somehow find a way to arm as many people as I could with this valuable information. As a battered woman I feel that it is my responsibility to do my part to combat domestic violence in our society.
For so many years I accepted being abused, and I made allowances for why my father abused my mother. I mean nobody got seriously hurt, so it was no big deal. Then, Domestic Violence now had a new face and it wasnt mine - Karen, my hero and a really good friend of mine. A former police officer and a mother woke up one beautiful morning got dressed and made breakfast for her four-year-old son Austin. She played with him and kissed him before dropping him off at his daycare. This was Karens everyday routine before going to work.
It was a typical day at first, she worked, she laughed and she thought about all the laundry that awaited her at home. Never did she think twice that this day would be one she would never forget. On her way to pick up her son, she received a call from her ex-boyfriend, Austins father. She was surprised because she had not seen or talked to him in months. The two had decided several months earlier to go their separate ways. Karens ex-boyfriend had apparently changed his mind, and demanded she give him a second chance.
Karen had moved on with her life, and was planning to move to Atlanta to make a fresh start. She told him that she just wanted to be friends, and assured him that he could see his son any time he wanted. When Karen arrived at the school Austins dad was there waiting. They talked in front of the daycare entrance for a few moments and the conversation turned into an argument. Karen refused to take him back. What happened next was the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone. Her former ex-boyfriend, an on-duty police officer, pulled out his gun and fired one shot at Karen.
As she fell to the ground her motherly instincts kicked in and she yelled, Run Austin, run! Can you imagine a four year old boy not knowing what to do but follow his mothers command? He ran, and as he ran his father whom he loved and trusted fired one shot into little Austins back. Karen lay several feet away in a puddle of blood, and minutes later her ex put a gun to his head and killed himself. Karen was rushed to the hospital, where later she was informed that her son Austin and his father were both dead.
Karen survived her abusive relationship, but she paid a heavy price - she lost her only child. I spoke with Karen a few weeks ago, and she said it has been almost three years since her son was killed by his father. Its been a long difficult road for her, and she takes it one day at a time. Nothing can describe the pain you feel, she said. You wake up everyday with this emptiness that nothing can fill. Domestic Violence is a serious problem in our community in the world for that matter. Pass this information on to someone you know. Having this information may very well save their lives.
For more information or to get help go to
www.ndvh.org National Domestic Violence Help
www.ncadv.org National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Help Line 24 hours 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) Translators Available
Pam Pinnock is an Actress, Author and Publicist who has worked with many artists including Jay-Z, John Legend, Ludacris and Jagged Edge. She recently released The Father Fracture, her personal memoir. For more info, go to www.pampinnock.com