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Domestic Violence, Aggravated Assault, Abuse, and Our Voice

Recently, cases of aggravated assault, spousal abuse, and domestic violence between men and women have been on all the major news headlines. Ray Rice reminded us what a bad cover-up looks like. Stemming from this colossal event comes that of female U.S. soccer player Hope Solo, who faces domestic violence charges for punching her sister and teenage nephew this summer.


These cases remind us that this type of violence is not gender specific. More importantly, however, domestic violence is more common than we realize. Why is this so? For one, victims do not usually report assault because the perpetrator is a loved one. The victim can also be embarrassed or afraid. This is not to mention that many times, there is a third party to consider: a child. http://psychcentral.com/lib/why-do-abused-victims-stay/000248. Sound Familiar? Janay Palmer, Ray Rice’s wife, a victim.


After watching the allegations against Ray Rice continue to immerge in the news, HC SJU decided this is an issue that affects us as a news source. We also thought: how many of SJU students have been a victim of domestic violence?


Many of you answered our questions: #WhyIstayed, #WhyIleft, or both. We are honored to share your voices.


With that, we will share one specific case of domestic violence of a victim. This person is an SJU student and will remain anonymous. We thank this individual for his or her courage.


Getting to know this person, I found out he/she comes from a good family, he/she is a dog lover, a friend, a world traveler, and an involved student on campus. He/she is compassionate and extremely kind.


I choose to remain anonymous. The main reason is that the issue of abusive relationships is not isolated. It is not individual or limited to one specific population. I don’t want to put a face to this story because it is more important to represent the countless women and men who still remain voiceless or have not yet left their hurtful situations. Maybe if I speak as a collective voice now in this moment, then others will find the courage to stand up for themselves. 


I was in a sexually and emotionally abusive relationship in high school. Years later, a part of me still blames myself for staying with that individual even after I knew that the relationship was rooted in control. I still demand answers of myself that I realize are unfair to think up in the first place: “Why didn’t you hit him? Why didn’t you leave the moment your stomach sank in your gut when you knew you weren’t safe? Why did you respond to those manipulative, late night texts? How could you let this happen?” I realize now that these are questions society asks victims of abuse. This anxious interrogation results in the victims shrinking away from coming out about their stories and healing from psychological trauma. 


Many victims of physical and sexual violence report of “freezing up” or “shutting down” during the abuse. When the interrogator version of me pops into my mind and cries, “why didn’t you hit him, push him away, fight back?” I have to reassure myself that in that moment, my body knew what was best for me to do to preserve my health. So I froze. And in hindsight, I realize that I can’t beat myself up about the natural reaction I had to a scary situation. 


After I ended the relationship, the memories and flashbacks lingered and made focusing in school and coping under pressure extremely difficult. I would often wake up in tears from nightmares. I had a hard time trusting others, especially men my age. Last year, I started going to CAPS and meeting with a therapist to develop grounding techniques that would help me move forward with my daily routine. I strongly recommend   the CAPS services to anyone unsure of how to deal with their stress, fears, or PTSD. It helped me get back on track to living a fulfilling life and regaining trust in others.


To any women or men in emotionally, physically, sexually, and verbally abusive relationships, I want to let you all know that you have dignity and freedom and strength. You are unique human beings with the capacity to love and feel and hope and persevere, and I know that you will heal and inspire others around you who feel as scared, hurt, and insecure as you feel now. It isn’t easy to leave, but you can only start to heal and embrace yourselves once you are surrounded by people who see you as the incredible, beautiful, worthy individuals that you are. You can hate what happened to you. You can hate the act and the words and the abuser. But you cannot, cannot, cannot hate or blame yourselves. What happened or is happening to you is inherently wrong. You are not wrong. 



You are not wrong. We want to remind readers you are not alone in any situation. There are resources for you on campus, and there are people around you that want to help.



For those of us who have not been victims of abuse, aggravated assault, or domestic violence: stay informed with the news. Look for warning signs from loved ones. Be there for them.


Please feel free to contact our team.

CAPS services can be reached at: http://www.sju.edu/int/studentlife/studentresources/counseling/appointments.html

or by phone: (610-660-1090)


Why you stayed:

Because I thought I needed him to be happy.

Why you stayed:

I’ve never been single and don’t know how to be.

Why you stayed: 

I stayed because I was in love. I loved him so much that I thought I could help him. That it was my responsibility to change him for the better so we could be in love with each othear. But that isn’t anyone’s responsibility other than the person that needs to be changed. I couldn’t change him but he changed me. He left scars both physical and mental that may never disappear. Waiting until it becomes too much isn’t the answer. Getting out was the best thing that ever happened and I didn’t do it alone. The support from my friends who knew is what made all the difference. Kim Kanakos, 2015


Why you stayed:

The good times, while few and far between, made the bad times seem not so bad.


Why you stayed:

He told me no one would ever love me like he did

OR Why you left:

I realized the way he loved me wasn’t really love at all

OR Why you left:

Because I saw the rest of the world was waiting #WhyILeft

OR Why you left:

For the first time after dating for 2 years I finally had the courage to say no. During a fight he told me I had to do what he said if I really loved him. The words slipped out of my mouth by accident after thinking it for months. It was such a relief after I did it. I had control over my life again and I knew I made the right decision. It’s been 3 years and the wounds are still there but having control over my body and choices is something I will never give up again no matter “how much he loves me”.

Why you stayed:

I stayed because I knew he wasn’t being the person he really is. I knew he wanted to be better, and I gave him that chance. We work through our problems now and take each day day by day. I’m happier than ever, and I’m glad I stayed.


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