Ask the Woman Next to You


(c) Can Stock Photo / razyphoto

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but the people who experience it want you to be aware of it all of the time.

My first personal experience with a victim of domestic abuse was in my early twenties. I met a stunning woman who worked at my office and we became friends. Betty (not her real name) had dark hair worn full and glossy to her shoulders, porcelain skin, beautiful dark blue eyes, and a slender, feminine figure. We were talking one day and I expressed admiration at how lovely she was. She looked at me with a strange grimace on her face and said, “I didn’t always look like this.”

I laughed and said, “What, a little gilding on the lily?” She grew very quiet and pensive and I suddenly realized this was hard for her. I quickly assured her I didn’t mean to pry and she said, “No, you are a friend,” and she shared her story.

She married young to a man who was ten years older. Although she had no idea at the time that this was not the usual way to express love, he spent the next five years of their marriage isolating and tearing her down through emotional abuse. By the time they had a child, the abuse had become physical, but she was afraid to leave because he told her he would kill her if she ever left him and she believed him.

One night when her son was about four, the physical abuse affected him as well and she finally fought back. She never had before and she said, “It was like it was what he had been waiting for.” Continue reading

One in Four – Domestic Violence and You

Texas Advocacy Project iconI have recently become involved with the Texas Advocacy Project, a group I became aware of during my work with Impact Austin.  I will join the Board of Directors of Texas Advocacy in January, 2012.

I remember when I met Andrea Sloan, the Executive Director of the Texas Advocacy Project. A small group of Impact Austin Focus Area Committee Members met with her and her staff, in order to discuss their presentation as a finalist for the Impact Austin $100,000 grant. (they won!)

Andrea is a petite,dark blonde woman with fine features and intense, green and gold eyes. She has a depth in those eyes that belies her youth and we were impressed with her passion and her transparency when she told us what Texas Advocacy does for Texas’ victims of domestic violence, teen dating violence and sexual assault.

We discussed the statistics on domestic abuse and violence and Andrea said that it was often difficult for people to believe how much goes on right here in Austin, or in the next neighborhood, or perhaps even next door.

She said that they know, “One in four women in America will experience severe physical abuse from an intimate partner and that number goes higher when you include emotional abuse.” However, many victims hide this information and so if you are one of the lucky ones who does not experience it, you may think it is an exaggeration.

The Centers for Disease Control will argue that point. Continue reading