The Holidays are about giving, sharing, and spreading joy, which is why I'm honored to be part of the "12 Days of Giving!"
Sometimes things aren't all smiles and happiness, though. As a survivor of domestic violence myself, I've had a few rough holidays in the past. So have many others. In fact, according to the CDC, 1 of every 4 women and 1 in 9 men in the United States are victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives.
Luckily, there's a way to make it easier for a woman (or man) to take the first step to shattering the chains of abuse, by talking with someone about the situation ... someone with the knowledge and ability to help.
That's why I choose the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Hotline advocates are available for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Assistance is available in English and Spanish with access to more than 170 languages through interpreter services.
Who are Domestic Violence victims?
Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
If you are a victim/survivor of domestic violence, the important thing to remember is this: It's not your fault. The abuser very intentionally, methodically, and usually gradually, grinds down your self-worth, isolates you from friends, family and favorite activities, and increasingly adds verbal abuse, threats and escalating physical violence. Their favorite weapons are secrecy and control. It makes it very tough to have enough courage to break free.
The first step to breaking the chains is telling someone.
The good news is, as in my case, sometimes talking to someone at a hotline like National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), where they know much more about the process abusers use -- the secrecy, control, manipulation, threats, isolation, and violence -- makes it much easier. You recognize that you are not at fault. You realize this is actually, sadly, very common -- and you aren't alone. You realize people will understand. You see that it will only get worse if nothing is done. You get help with the process of safely leaving, taking legal action like getting a restraining order, and other things that are not knowledge anyone has until they need it.
74 percent of Americans know someone affected by domestic violence. And since you just read this article, now you definitely do too. I was able to come out of the dark and break the chains with help. Can you please help another hurting person do the same? Thank you.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can help: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or NDVH.org.
Learn more by following @12DaysGiving and the hashtag #12DaysOfGiving on Twitter.
Follow Amy Neumann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CharityIdeas