- "On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men." (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
Shana suffered domestic violence for more than 10 years at the hands of her husband, Sean. From the onset of their marriage he had been violent towards her, but Shana never told anyone. Sean would verbally and physically abuse her on a regular basis. Because she wanted to save her marriage, Shana thought that if it meant being abused, she would just have to live with it.
One afternoon Sean came home early from work and the laundry had not been completed. He picked up a bottle of bleach and poured it on Shana. Some of the bleach got into her eyes and she had to be rushed to the hospital. Sean did not want her to go because he feared, rightly, that the medical staff would see her other bruises. He had caused so much pain in her life, but she had convinced herself that she triggered his anger. She believed that he could change, if she just loved him more.
Staff called in Shana’s parents, and the attending physician told them that Shana had three broken ribs along with damage to her eyes. Her X-rays revealed other deep scars and broken bones. Her parents had no idea that their daughter was going through this type of abuse from Sean. He always appeared to be kind and very nurturing towards her whenever he was in their presence.
Courage to Press Charges
Sean tried to enter Shana’s room to persuade her not to press charges against him. He knew the outcome would not be in his favor. Doctors, however, would not allow Sean access to Shana and called the police instead to investigate.
Unless Shana pressed charges against Sean there was nothing anyone could do, the officers explained. She decided to file charges against him this time, and he was immediately arrested. Sean pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison. Though he attempted to contact his wife through his family and friends, not one contact was successful.
Shana broke her silence and told her parents she was so ashamed and did not want them to be worried about her. So many nights she would pray to God for the abuse to stop, she said. She truly understood how people are driven by fear, shame, and guilt to live with domestic violence.
Shana is filing for divorce in order to move on with her life. Since being discharged from the hospital, she relocated and is attending church on a weekly basis.
Her insight regarding this violent aspect of her marriage has been sobering. When a person living with domestic violence holds their silence because of fear you are just as guilty as the abuser. You constantly allow it in your life, therefore, you validate the behavior. “I had to let go of Sean’s drama and not allow it to overshadow my life any longer,” she told me during counseling sessions.
With support from counseling, support groups, family, and friends Shana is now a vocal advocate and helps others break their silence with her advocacy. It is important to do something, read, and to extend yourself to others who need help to also break their silence.
Love, Power, and Clarity
Shana’s favorite scripture is 2 Timothy 1:7. “For God has not given me a spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind.”
Shana wants everyone to know that abuse is a form of bullying, and the abuser attacks the person suffering with low self-esteem. Sean took advantage of Shana’s loving and mild spirit as well as her desire for her marriage to succeed. She did not want to disappoint her family and friends.
Shana now attends church, prays daily and studies her bible to gain confidence in herself and trust God more every day. Domestic violence will remain a negative life style within our society if others choose to keep silence and not seek help. In Shana’s situation it almost cost her the use of her eyes, and her life.
Be encouraged to break your silence and not live in fear and violence. In domestic violence each case is different, but don’t let it be said that you kept your silence to protect someone who does not value life. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.