Happy Friday, Everyone!!!
I had the chance to do some more training this week. The training topic was The Impact of Sexual and Domestic Violence on Health. The training was provided by Kansas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and was graciously funded by a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield. This topic is very close to my heart so I listened very intently to the speakers and their teaching tools.
I only have time and space to talk about a small portion of our training, but the biggest issue that we learned is how these traumatic events can affect the physical health of the survivors. It can impact how well or not well every system of the body works: digestive system, brain and nervous system, circulatory system, and muscle reaction. There is nothing that isn’t affected by trauma, whether it is a single traumatic incident or a series of repeated events.
We went over the staggering statistics and how many people it truly affects, and many more stories that are never reported or shared with anyone. The statistics are so worrisome that domestic violence and sexual health are being considered a health crisis epidemic. One thing that really stuck out to me was the typical phrase that is always repeated regarding domestic violence with an intimate relationship, “Why didn’t they just leave?” The group discussed the possible problems with staying in a dangerous relationship and then what might happen if the victim leaves that relationship. A huge surprise to the whole group was that every single thing that can happen if you choose to stay, can also happen if you choose to leave. However, the one thing that does change when you try to leave, your chance of death by the perpetrator greatly increases.
Survivors know this, they go over repeatedly all the options and the possible outcomes. People that are close enough to know their situation tell them to leave and to think of themselves or their children, but that is exactly what they do. Every day of their life they have to reevaluate their situation to find the safest route for their family, many times the safest way is to stay in the situation. Many times if an abuser senses a change in the routine the abuse will increase, so it is a very dangerous road to trek.
Everyone’s story is different and we can never know how much of someone’s stay will forever remain hidden, but we need to do our best to support each other however we can. If you don’t know how you can help someone, then ask them, sometimes repeatedly. Make sure that they know you are there for them, no matter how distant they seem. They have to realize that opening up to someone is going to be worth it, before they can take that risk.