Today I have the honor of interviewing a woman who is a survivor in all meanings of that word. Kathy Lockhart is a professional Registered Nurse with a Master's Degree in Psychiatric Nursing from the University of Virginia and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from California State University, East Bay.
She became interested in domestic violence after being in an abusive relationship. She has been an active volunteer for a community Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Hotline for the past 14 years and is an advocate for victims of domestic violence and rape. She knows Domestic Violence can happen to anyone. She is a living example of how women can break free from abuse and live a meaningful life.
Question: When a young woman who has been beaten by her husband calls your hotline as a lifeline, what do you tell her?
Kathy Lockhart: I first tell her she is not alone and we are here to help her get through this difficult time. Then I determine whether or not she is still in a dangerous situation. Where is the abuser? Does she need to call 911 at that time? Does she need for me to call 911 for her? Is she still in imminent danger?
If the abuser has left the scene, I let the victim talk about what just happened. This allows her the opportunity to get out the anxiety, the fear and guilt that the victim always feels like he/she did something wrong to cause the event.
Since it seems most of the victims that call the hotline have children at home, I have them call 911 and report the event to the police and they are also able to get medical help that way. They don't have to pack up kids and drive themselves to the local hospital. The police can also see the crime scene and what else has been destroyed during the altercation.
But first and foremost is always making sure that the victim is safe in their present surroundings.
Question: What are some safety precautions battered wives can take?
K.L.: We tell Victims of Domestic Abuse:
Question: Do you think that verbal attacks are just as damaging (psychologically especially) as physical ones?
K.L.: Abuse is usually a slow insidious process that never starts out with a toxic relationship. On the contrary, the abuser is often charming, engaging, and very attentive to the victim. Most describe meeting their "prince charming." Whether that prince charming ends up breaking her arm, or constantly telling her she is a fat pig that no other man would ever want, can't be measured on a "damage scale." However, both kinds of abuse result with a woman being controlled, devalued, disrespected, belittled, threatened and completely beaten down. She ends up having little if any self esteem, anxiety, psychosocial and medical problems. She is isolated from families and friends. She is often depressed and scared to even tell anyone what is going on in her world.The strike of the tongue can be just as damaging as the strike of the fist.
Question: Where can a battered woman get the support she needs?
K.L.: There is a lot of assistance available for domestic violence victims today.
Hotlines are able to provide victims with referrals to legal resources, shelters, counseling, medical assistance, transitional and temporary housing and host of other resources.
Originally published on Beyond Blue at Beliefnet.com. Therese J. Borchard writes the daily blog, "Beyond Blue," on Beliefnet.com and is author of "Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes" and "The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Kit." Subscribe to Beyond Blue here or visit her at www.ThereseBorchard.com.
Follow Therese Borchard on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thereseborchard