• Also see Help and Healing: Abuse
October is national domestic violence awareness month. A time set aside to shed light on the tragedy of love that comes along with blood and bruises. I have zero tolerance for domestic violence. I won’t even put up with words that hurt. But I am not every woman. I am not the product of a violent home, nor am I so needy for a man that I’d tolerate his mess. Does this mean that I am better than those who are battered? No, not at all. But what it does suggest is that I have an obligation to help out my sisters who are in violent situations. They may have no other way out than this column. Hear me well- if he hits you let him go.
National domestic violence awareness month deserves to be expanded by eleven months, because this is a crisis in America. Unfortunately, the religious community has not been at the front of the awareness parade. Rather, we have shielded the batterer and condemned the battered. Religious leaders have candy coated this topic and made statements like… “just pray and it will get better”, or …”he’s a man, and that’s how they are.” I find those statements repulsive in respect to the fact that a woman is battered every 15 seconds. (This comes from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.) Somewhere along the line somebody told women that it’s O.K. to take a few licks from your man because it means that he loves you. The same person told men that it was manly to slap your woman around, it keeps her under control.
The statistics surrounding domestic violence are a wake-up call to any and every sister who is in a relationship or even thinking about getting into one. Check this out- “Black women experience intimate partner violence at a 35 percent higher rate than white women.” Not concerned yet. Read on. “The number one killer of African American females, ages 15-34, was homicide at the hands of an intimate partner.” (These figures come from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.) THis means that love is a dangerous enterprise for us. Wouldn’t it be easier if men who had the potential to beat us up had labels on their foreheads? This way we could make an informed decision early on. Or it would be great if all men who were batterers were ugly guys with no personality or ambition in life? Unfortunately batterers can be charming, good looking men with careers that are zooming ahead successfully.
At the first sign of trouble, have the guts to get out. The first sign of trouble may be a quick temper that causes him to punch through a wall, or curse you out or hurt an animal. Others signs are that he always blames others and never sees himself at fault. An especially seductive sign is that he rushes your relationship along. In other words, he falls in love fast, and wants to have you all to himself most of the time. Beware. Move on quickly. Do not linger in this relationship.
If you are a sister already connected with a violent man, please understand that few of them ever change. Yes there are exceptions, but they are too few for me to cite. Rather, women try to stand by their violent man, and wind up on the 10:00 newscast as the lastest victim. He won’t change. If you are going to pray, pray for the strength to get out of the relationship alive. Experts say that the most dangerous time is when a women tries to leave. Take the time and read the list below. It is compiled by area battered women’s shelters. They also want you to call them before you leave, so they can transition you to safety.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents and extra clothes and medicines in a safe place.
- Always keep the shelter phone number on you.
- Open a checking/ account in your own name.
- Get your own Post Office box.
- On your job, have someone screen your calls.
- Have someone escort you to your car, bus, train
Make a decision. You deserve better than this. In the name of Jesus, make a step away from the pain and into the joy.
Dr. Sheron C. Patterson is the senior pastor of the St. Paul United Methodist Church located in the heart of Dallas, Texas. Dr. Patterson is a nationally recognized Christian relationship expert and author of The Love Clinic: How to Heal Relationships in a Christian Spirit
Her sage advice has been broadcast via Black Entertainment Television (BET) and Jet Magazine. On a weekly basis, believers in 40 cities hear her “Love Doctor” broadcast on the syndicated ABC radio format REJOICE. Locally she co-hosts “Inspirations Across the Metroplex” on KRNB 105.7 FM’s gospel music/relationship radio program on Sunday morning.