Love Doesn't Have to Hurt

Finding help from domestic abuse

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…” The opening line of Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities is how my friend Anna used to describe her relationship with her live-in boyfriend Mark. “When things are good, they’re amazing!” she said. “But when they’re bad, they’re brutal.” It wasn’t just that Anna and Mark fought often, it was the fact that when Mark got angry, he was also violent. Anna kept this fact hidden for a long time, ashamed that she was the one to provoke him - that in some way, his hitting her was her fault. The last time I saw Anna she couldn’t hide this anymore; she was wearing a scarf around her neck to cover the bruises where Mark had tried to strangle her.

As you’ve heard by now, domestic violence can happen to anyone—even Rihanna. How Chris Brown could even think to hit his girl, is beyond me. Anger should never reach the level where it gets physical. The fact that he made threats to kill her, too, cannot be taken back. Chris Brown is just like every other punk who thinks it’s ok to hurt the person he claims to love, he’s a liar. Abuse isn’t love.

Each year, 5.3 million women are the victims of domestic abuse, and 1,232 of those women will lose their lives because of it. Living with an abuser makes it harder to leave because you have to leave everything - but it’s not impossible. Since its inception in 1996, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has helped two million families across the United States and in Puerto Rico. Each day, NDVH receives over 600 calls from people who are being abused, or who know someone who is. By making a donation to the organization or volunteering to take calls, you can help support victims of abuse and save lives.

When I told Anna that what Mark was doing to her was abuse, that he could seriously hurt her and even kill her, she looked at me as if I was being dramatic. “I’m not going to call the cops on him,” she said. “We might still be able to work things out.” But I knew that they couldn’t and that they shouldn’t. This was the second time he’d injured her. The first time, Mark hit Anna so hard she couldn’t stop her ear from ringing, affecting her balance and causing her to fall every time she tried to stand. Mark wasn’t going to change, but Anna could change her situation. She could leave him, I told her. She could stay with me, or go to a safe house in town. At the safe house Mark couldn’t find her, most of all he couldn’t harm her.

By calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a victim of abuse can be connected with resources in their area, specifically a safe house. “Emergency shelter is a safe and nurturing environment a place to heal, to regain your sense of self, and to learn to create a life free of violence and abuse,” says NDVH. “Emergency Shelter is available to women for whom safety and confidentiality is necessary.” Safe houses are also a great resource for battered women who need a place for their children to be protected from abuse as well.

“Everyone has heard the songs about how much love can hurt. But that doesn't mean physical harm: Someone who loves you should never abuse you,” says Michelle New, PhD. “Abuse has no place in love.” I wish Anna could have realized this before she went back home to Mark that night.

If you are being abused, or know someone who is, please get help.
National Domestic Violence 24 Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Protect Yourself Online From Your Attacker: Internet Safety
Make A Safety Plan To Get Out Immediately

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