The beautiful wedding gown, personalized vows and a celebratory reception; Kelly* described it as the best day of her life. Nine months later she wonders if she is crazy, feeling isolated from everyone and fearing for her life.
Although not battered and bruised, Kelly is a victim of domestic violence. After her fairy tale wedding, Kelly experienced daily confrontations and questions of how she spent her time, who she was with, how she spent money (she was employed as an engineer), how she was dressed. The list goes on. At first, she viewed the questions as her husband wanting to spend more time together and thought it was sweet. Over time Kelly gave up control over her finances, lost her friends, and could only visit her family members if her spouse was present. She was called names, pushed, threatened and terrified.
Kelly’s situation is not unusual. The fact that Kelly didn’t experience broken bones or a black eye is also not unusual. It is estimated that 1 in 3 Michigan families are impacted by domestic violence. Domestic violence takes many forms — physical violence, emotional abuse, financial control, sexual assault, verbal assaults, isolation from family and friends. Like Kelly, many victims do not seek out support or assistance because they do not see themselves as a domestic violence victim. Without the physical injury, they question if they will be believed or if there is help out there for them. Many walk around questioning their own sanity and judgment. But help is available.
HAVEN encourages victims and loved ones of victims to seek support and information. Becoming educated about domestic violence is one of the first steps towards safety. Creating a safety plan is a crucial step and getting the information needed to create that plan is key. HAVEN provides a free and confidential crisis and support line 877-922-1274, ensuring that help to make that first step is just a phone call away. A crisis line team member can assist the caller with basic information on the dynamics of domestic violence, safety planning, community resources and potential next steps.
Taking that first step and picking up the phone can be terrifying. Kelly decided she needed help after reading about a domestic violence homicide in the newspaper. Through the terror described, Kelly saw her future. Now after safety planning, counseling and support, Kelly is back on her own two feet and excited about the future that lies ahead. A future without fear.
*the name has been changed to protect this woman.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. HAVEN works 365 days each year so people can live without fear.