Today the young women of Saint Dominic Academy will hear a very important message. Luz Fontanez of Women Rising will be here to address our students about the topic of Domestic Violence. For those who are unaware, October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and I, along with the rest of the administration felt that here at a school which works to foster and empower young women to prepare them for their adult lives, perhaps no other topic could be more important and timely than this one.
As such, I wanted for a moment today to share my own thoughts and reflections on this sad and tragic issue that haunts the lives of far too many women and even stretches its shadow over their children at times as well. Domestic violence is sadly hidden behind closed doors nearly all the time. It can be covered all too easily, by makeup, by long sleeves or jeans or strategically placed scarves or shawls. Dinner plans can be postponed due to “colds”. Sunglasses can be worn because of “allergies”. We’ve seen it depicted on television and on theater screens; a bruise explained by a fall down the stairs, a black eye shrugged away by a clumsy misstep. It’s a sad reality that remains hidden right in plain sight; and the women who suffer from this are as varied and as different socially, racially, economically, and religiously as there are colors in the rainbow.
There is not one stereotype of an “abused woman”. She is not always weak or unintelligent or desperate to be loved or suffering from low self esteem. She did not actively look to put herself in the situation, this is not something she wanted, not something she dreamed of when she thought of falling in love. She is not a willing partner in her relationship; in fact she is not a partner at all. Women, young, old, rich, poor, Catholic, Jewish, black, white, the list is endless…one never can tell which woman you pass on the street, who stands in front of you in a board room, in a classroom, in a restaurant, around your family’s dinner table…you just never know which one of them has been in this situation and has been brave enough, strong enough, and empowered enough to finally say, enough is enough, and find the strength to seek help and get out.
And how, I am sure our young ladies will ask today, does this happen? How do so many smart women, the statistic is 1 in 4, suffer from physical abuse at the hands of their partner during the course of their lifetime? Because the first time it happens, the person swears up and down it will never happen again. And if the woman loves her partner, she is inclined to believe him. And so the pattern of abuse begins; the abuse, the apology, the fear and forgiveness and before one knows it, this strong woman has become a victim; trapped in a situation she no longer knows how to free herself from. Asking for help is challenging; how can she explain to her family or friends that she has allowed this to happen to her.
Our speaker today will help our young ladies to understand ways in which to, of course, avoid ever being in this situation. But with a shocking and horrifying statistic like 1 in 4, she will also explain ways in which to come forward and seek help should it ever happen; she will explain how to Rise Up and remain empowered women even in the face of an unspeakable situation.
I want to end today with a few more numbers…although my readers know that numbers are not my strong suit. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month…and these numbers are truly the most frightening things to come out of the month of October.
- The number of American women murdered by current or ex male partners between 2016-2017 was over 1,600.
- 85 percent of domestic abuse victims are women.
- 3 women a day are murdered by a current or former male partner in the United States.
- 38,028,000 is the number of women who have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetimes.
- 4,744,000 is the number of women in the United States who experience physical violence by their physical partner every year.
- 1,509 is the number of women murdered by men they knew in 2018.
- 20 people are victims of intimate partner/ domestic violence every minute.
- 10,000,000 – the number of children exposed to domestic violence in the United States each year.
- 25%- the number of domestic violence incidents against women that are reported to the police annually.