Let's Talk About Abuse

Abuse comes in many different forms. Emotional, domestic, sexual and more. Just in this country alone, 20 people are physically abused every minute by their intimate partners, equating to 10 million people annually. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been abused by their intimate partners. 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked. Approximately 20,800 phone calls are made at domestic violence centers. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men are raped in his/her lifetime. The emotional toll it takes on these victims causes detrimental effects on the person's life. Young people falling into romantic relationships are prone to facing abuse early on. 43% of college women have reported sexual, verbal, physical abuse or control abuse from their intimate partner. In addition to being destructive to mental and physical safety, abuse has an economic toll as well. For instance, 21-60% of victims lose their jobs due to being in an abusive relationship and approximately 78% of women were killed at their workplace between 2003-2008. Many people say "why not just leave if it hurts that bad?" but it's easier said than done. Victims are scared to leave due to fear that their partner might go to any lengths to hurt them. They feel that they have no one to run to for help. Also, because intense feelings and emotions are involved, victims feel trapped and would rather "fix" the relationship than to leave. College students dealing with an abusive partner feel overwhelmed and have a difficult time focusing on their education. It takes a mental toll on the victim and thus making it difficult to juggle and prioritize what matters. 

One of the first signs of abuse is when your partner tries to control aspects of your life. For instance, your partner has an issue with you being friends with certain people or doesn't like you hanging out with your close friends and family. Your partner will try to separate or isolate you from your friends. Emotional and verbal abuse is another initial sign before the escalation to physical abuse. Many people downplay the mental effects of verbal and emotional abuse and the victim begins to feel as if he/she isn't enough for their partner, they have to please their partner, make their partner happy and do whatever their partner desires.

Mental illness is often associated with abuse as well. We fail to call out the detrimental effects of mental illness leading to abuse. Often times both the abuser and victim grew up dealing with mental illness and never sought help. This is because mental illness is taboo, it's a forbidden subject to talk about. People dealing with depression, anxiety, and such feel as if there is something wrong with them. This can lead to suicidal thoughts and isolation. People who face mental illness push away their illness thus bottling up everything they've dealt with without knowing that their past can carry through. People fail to realize that those who grew up in an abusive household can turn around and abuse someone else. As a society, we have to address the stigma of mental illness and abuse. 

I can speak for myself as someone who has survived abuse in many forms, I, fortunately, was able to overcome my abuse, however, I still deal with mental illness. That is a part of me that I am not ashamed to carry. Growing up with an abusive father and falling into a toxic relationship of 4 years and coming out of it made me realize many things about myself. I never knew the impact my father's abuse had on me because I told myself that this was my past and I wasn't ready to face that. I was ashamed. But the fact of the matter is, I'm a victim of abuse. I deal with mental illness. I found my outlet but the immense pain I was put through has inspired me to share my stories. I refuse to be just another number and choose to be a voice.  But many are afraid to speak up in fear of being judged or frowned upon. This can lead to suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America. Ever year 44,193 Americans die by suicide and for every death, there are 25 attempts. Because we, as a society, refuse to look at the other side of abuse, mental illness, and suicide, we are losing each other. Depression isn't just "sad thoughts," suicide isn't an attempt to gain attention, abuse isn't overly exaggerated. It's time we address it, share peoples stories and do something about it. 

If you're dealing with mental illness, abuse or suicidal thoughts, you're not alone. Don't become another number in the statistic. Become a voice for others, share your story, help others share theirs and together, help each other. We can all use a helping hand.