Archived Story

The hard truth about domestic abuse

Published 4:20pm Thursday, November 22, 2012

The dictionary defines violence as: “powerful force, as of a hurricane.” Beaufort County residents understand the devastating effects of a hurricane.
Take a moment to imagine a hurricane hits and destroys your home. Look around at all the destruction. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off and make the decision to begin making repairs, putting back what was lost. You may convince yourself that it will not happen again.
In Beaufort County, if you live in certain areas, that is wishful thinking and not likely. If your home is destroyed by a hurricane again and again, you begin to feel helpless and hopeless. It becomes more and more difficult to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and begin again with a hopeful outlook.
Many are affected by domestic violence, directly or indirectly at some point in life. Victims of domestic violence cover all socio-economic classes. No group is exempt. It is so hard to understand that the person that once said you were the love of his life now uses you as an emotional and/or physical punching bag. Being assaulted by someone who once promised to love and support you is unthinkable. So, when the violence occurs, you tell yourself that it will never happen again. It was an isolated incident. You become convinced that it was somehow your fault. The truth is, it is very unlikely that it will never happen again. It is never the victim’s fault that someone chooses to be violent.
It’s not difficult to understand why victims of domestic violence have difficulty leaving. Often victims are economically dependent. They may not work outside the home or if they do, their abuser may control their income. It is very difficult to “stick” money aside. Victims may fear greater harm to themselves and children if they choose to leave. They are often convinced by their abuser that if they leave, they will lose their children. The thought of being totally alone is too frightening. Victims often feel emotionally trapped.
Fear of the unknown is a big reason it is hard to leave. Many questions arise. Where will I go? How will I live? What will people think? How will my abuser retaliate?
The most important step in becoming free from a violent relationship is the decision to actually leave. People who have not lived in a violent home don’t understand how difficult it is to take that first step. It can take every ounce of strength to simply pick up the phone and call for help. It takes a strong, not weak, person to admit they need help.
Ruth’s House is a shelter to help make that first step a little easier and safer. Our mission is to provide free, confidential counseling, court advocacy, support groups and hope for those in danger.
We’d like to encourage you to help. To make a donation make your check to Ruth’s House and mail to P.O. Box 2843 Washington, N.C. 27889. Your tax deductible gift will be greatly appreciated. To volunteer, please send a note or e-mail Include your phone number and mailing address.
Jo Lynn Herbert is a board member for Ruth’s House.

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