By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
The quote that is the title of this blog entry comes from a recent article by Lucy Dukes in Idaho’s Coeur d’ Alene Press, quoting a survivor of domestic violence. The article quotes another survivor as saying, “I was a real person. I have degrees. I have a degree in early childhood education. I had a life.”
Statements like this are often found in media stories about domestic violence, and it seems that many people believe that domestic violence wouldn’t happen to someone like themselves. Although certain risk factors do put people at a greater risk of experiencing domestic violence, the United States Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women states that “Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Domestic violence occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating.”
As we have gotten deeper into studying the stigma surrounding domestic violence, my colleague Allison Crowe and I have learned more about how the social stigma surrounding domestic violence can become internalized by victims and survivors, which often makes it more difficult for them to ask for help when they need it.
When people internalize the stigma surrounding domestic violence, they may feel that nobody will help them if they seek assistance. In addition, they may feel that they’ll be judged or viewed as damaged if they admit what is happening to them.
It is important that all victims and survivors of domestic violence know that there is help available from qualified professionals, and their feelings of shame and embarrassment, while normal, should not prevent them from seeking the help they need to help them move toward safety and greater wellbeing. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a great first-step resource for locating services in your local community.