Domestic violence doesn’t care who you are or used to be. It doesn’t care if you are popular or appear to have the perfect life.
In fact, you probably know someone whose been a victim of domestic violence or abuse. I have been compensated to be a part of the #PurplePurse campaign in collaboration with Allstate Foundation® and Latina Bloggers Connect but all thoughts, opinions and stories are my own.
Ray Rice was not released from the Ravens when the Baltimore Ravens saw the video of him abusing his then fiancé, Janay Palmer, he was released from his contract when WE saw the video of Ray Rice knocking, his now wife, Janay Palmer unconscious in an elevator. This is the abuse culture. No one sees anything until it affects them. No one condones it but no one wants to be in the middle of a domestic dispute either. I don’t know what made Janay Palmer stay with Ray Rice after he knocked her out cold but I’m also not in the middle of an abusive relationship and it’s pretty easy to pass judgment safely from atop my pedestal. It’s not so easy to leave when you are the victim of domestic violence.
When I was a child, I saw my own mother live through domestic violence. I saw what it did to her. It made her feel small and weak. She was told so many times that she was worthless and knocked back so many times when she tried to stand up for herself, for all of us, that eventually she was broken and tired.
Many nights, I spent lying in bed holding my little brother while we heard the noises from the other room. Doors opening. Doors shutting. Stumbling. Shouting. Screaming. Begging. Crying. Whimpering. Finally, stifling fear. She was tiny, meek and worn down from the weight of the world resting on her shoulders. She did nothing wrong.
She never allowed herself to fully cry, scream or shout. She had to push it all down and swallow it; hating every single moment of it. Losing herself. Losing any sense of respect, confidence or dignity she had. Knowing that her children heard and saw. Wondering if they felt differently about her.
I remember lying in my bed feeling helpless and then so angry. I wanted to keep my mother safe, but I couldn’t because I was just a small child. She would have never allowed it. She shielded us for as long as she could.
The summer I turned 10, I couldn’t stand idly by anymore. I wrote a letter to my uncle and begged him to come and get us. They arrived and I felt that I had found our Salvation. Finally, we could escape his tyranny of fear. Only, she refused to leave. Her reasoning was that she had no place to go with 5 children. She had no job, no money and nothing of her own. She knew he would come and then it would be worse so she sent her brothers home. I was crushed.
I didn’t understand. I felt that she had failed me. I felt that she was weak but I now know that she was strong. Stronger than I could ever be because staying with him was a sacrifice she made for her children. I would have rather have starved than stayed there. But it was not my choice. I was just a child.
Domestic violence affects 1 in 4 women in her lifetime; that’s more women than breast cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer combined. It was easy for me to tell my mom to leave. I thought like a child. I had no responsibilities. I knew nothing of the world, finances and children. I couldn’t comprehend how trapped a woman can be by finances. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, she quit working to be home with us. My father controlled all the finances. She was given money for food and to pay the bills and that was it. She didn’t have access to the checkbook. She had nothing of her own. She was completely financially dependent on him. She was held captive to her situation because she didn’t have the means to leave with five children and refused to leave us behind. My mom is my hero and one of the strongest women I know.
Since 2005, The Allstate Foundation has invested more than $40 million across the country to help domestic violence survivors regain control of their finances and break free from abuse. The Allstate Foundation is investing more than half a million dollars in the Purple Purse Challenge. The more donations each nonprofit gets, the more it can compete for Allstate Foundation incentive funding. Go to PurplePurse.com between Sept. 2 and Oct. 3 to join the Challenge and help a nonprofit near you.
PurplePurse.com has important tips and tools to help you recognize domestic violence and financial abuse, talk about it and end it. So next time you wonder, why does she stay with him? Why doesn’t she leave him? Consider that maybe she is in a financial prison and can’t, no matter how desperate she is to do so.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.