If he ever hit me, I would leave.
It seems very simple to say as a woman in a healthy relationship with a loving man who is a great father to our children.
But there are brave, smart, and strong women who find themselves in unhealthy relationships. They need to summon a special kind of courage to get the help they need.
When you are in an abusive relationship, you know you need to leave. Actually taking that step can be more complicated. Maybe your partner has threatened you or the children if you leave or threatened to harm himself. In the military, if you prosecute, you might worry how a conviction will affect his career and his ability to pay child support. You might worry about custody of the kids. Your religious convictions might make it harder to separate. You may have nowhere to go.
A woman who is working up the courage to make a change is a brave woman. And they can do it with our support. They need to know that they are brave, that there is help available, and that there is life after abuse.
They need to know there are places to go. Places like the domestic abuse shelter for which my moms’ group collects items. Imagine finding yourself in a shelter where you rely on the generosity of strangers so you and your children have basic hygiene items?
And ending the abuse starts with creating a culture. That’s why I donated some pro-bono hours to revise the curriculum the domestic abuse shelter brings into schools. That’s why our advisory board selected Violence Unsilenced as one of the 2010 Bloganthropy Award Finalists.
What would you do today if you were brave?
I know the women who read this site understand the meaning of courage.
I have been brave enough to smile as I waved goodbye to my deploying husband. And I have been brave enough to hand my first baby over for heart surgery.
If I were truly brave today, I might tell you about my personal brush with relationship violence, now long in my past. I’m not sure I’m that brave, yet.
It takes a brave woman to say that violence is unacceptable in a loving relationship. To break the uncomfortable silence and say to a friend, “Do you need to talk?” and then to really listen.
We can watch out for our sisters and be vigilant for signs of violence–and then help these women to be as brave as we know they are.
You can take the Brave Woman pledge and make your voice counted among those who stand up to violence:
I pledge to honor and respect brave women and children who tackle the difficult journey of change from domestic violence to a new life. I acknowledge my own moment-by-moment bravery, will remain aware of what is happening to others around me, and speak up against violence in any form. I will stand up for human dignity and safety for women and children.
Please join voices with Brave Women everywhere during a #BraveWoman twitter chat on December 19, from 1-2pm.
Abuse is often a cycle. Children who are abused or witness abuse are more likely to perpetuate the violence. So where does it end? How about right here? With us.
Disclosure: This post has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for CollectiveBias #CBias. All opinions are my own.