Doing an article on domestic abuse and sexual assault has always been something I’ve been interested in. Victims often have their voice taken from them after a traumatic experience due to fear and the mental anguish the assault caused.
However, these victims need to be heard. I dislike the title of victim. In my eyes, these individuals are survivors.
TV shows and movies tend to depict attacks happening by a stranger in a dark alley. Of course this occurs, but assaults are most commonly done by someone a person knows and cares for.
Abuse comes in many different forms. Physical abuse is what most people think of when the topic arises. This is a terrible assault causing bruises and scars. The internal scars left from mental and emotional abuse are equally important. No matter the type of assault, each survivor’s story is unique yet eerily similar.
The system needs to offer better forms of assistance for those currently or previously impacted by abuse, as well as harsher punishments for the abusers. May we never forget the case of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman on campus and only received six months in jail.
Abuse and sexual assault aren’t confined to one economic class, ethnicity, age or gender. Never-ending insults, the abuser threatening suicide or harm to their partner or their partner’s loved ones if they leave, gaslighting, which is twisting the actions and words of a partner to make him or her feel crazy, punching or throwing things, forcing or demanding a partner to have sex when it is unwanted, manipulation, withholding money as a form of control, as well as constant berating and blaming of a partner are many things people don’t realize are forms of abuse.
Being made to feel lesser than, fearful or forced into uncomfortable or painful situations, whether physically or emotionally, is abusive behavior. To those individuals suffering, there is hope. It may be hard and frightening to leave a situation, especially when children are involved and finances are tight, but the reward of escaping abuse is priceless.
Imagine not lying in bed paralyzed by fear as the sound of your abuser’s footsteps echoes down the hall. There is freedom. It will take time for the mental and emotional damage to heal, to forgive yourself for things you have been corrupted into believing, to find the vibrant beauty in your heart and mind that had been forced into submission and to find a sense of safety and peace in the world.
There will be good and bad days, but as time continues on like it always does, you will find yourself having more good days than bad. Slowly, the smile you once lost will return, and the freedom from constant sadness and fear will dissipate, turning into hope and self-love. This is my wish for every survivor reading this. You are not alone.
Standard reporter Atlanta Northcutt can be reached at 473-2191.