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In honor of January being National Stalking Awareness Month, I figured it would be salient to shed light on a topic that affects millions of men and women across all races, religions, cultures and statuses. In our generation especially, I’ve noticed a myriad of lost adolescents squandering around in relationships that are of little to no benefit to them simply because they never learned how to be loved or how to love themselves.

Though this is highly rooted in the exposure we had to (un)healthy relationships in our upbringing, there has been a wave of fortitude and resilience that passed over us following our traumatic experiences—a wave that has pushed us to the shorelines where we are getting back up on our feet to break the generational curses that have sought to rob us of the authentic love we deserve.

With that being said, there are many misconceptions that prevent individuals from speaking up when their friend is being abused. Here are five common myths and realities from the Red Flag Campaign to know about domestic violence.

“The violence really can’t be that serious.”

Dating violence can be verbal, emotional or physical and can include threats, pushing, punching, clapping, choking and sexual assault. It is rarely a one-time occurrence and usually always escalates, which significantly affects the victim’s health and well-being.

“My friend must be doing something to provoke the violence.”

A victim of dating violence is never to blame for the abuse they are experiencing. Although problems exist in every relationship, using violence is never acceptable.

“If it’s so bad, why don’t they just leave?”

Ending a relationship can be an extremely difficult decision that factors in strong emotional ties and fear for one’s safety. Your friend may have tried to leave in the past, but their partner may have threatened them to stop them from leaving.

“I shouldn’t get involved in a private matter.”

Domestic violence is not just a “personal problem.” It is a crime with serious repercussions for the victim, the abuser and the community.

“I know the abusive person—I really don’t think they could hurt anyone.”

An abuser being charming, warm and welcoming in social situations does not exempt them from the violence they are capable of in private spheres. Abusers are experts at manipulating within the public façade they’ve constructed.

“The abusive person must be sick.”

Using violence and other forms of abuse can a learned behavior, not just a mental illness. Such diction solely justifies the behavior and does not allow them to take responsibility for their actions.

Too many survivors have had to bear these bonds of brutal breakage. Some tear at their seams through the threads of domestic violence and force themselves to sew themselves back up again just to tackle more of the world’s brutalities. With faint voices and loud hearts, survivors must learn to choose ourselves and translate our sorrows to empowerment, our scars to stories, our past to making history. We will no longer house the ashes of our abusers in the rubble of our stomachs; rather, we will take our stained hands and craft a masterpiece. One that shows we survived. And we will continue to.

Here are some resources available to those in need:

To keep yourself safe on campus, you can use the Bull Runner shuttle service, register for Mo-Bull (an emergency text messaging system), or call the SAFE TEAM if you don’t want to walk around campus at night at 813-974-7233.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

Healthy Relationship Quiz: https://www.loveisrespect.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/HR-Quiz-final.pdf

How would you help (scenario-based exercise): https://www.loveisrespect.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/HWYH-Quiz-final.pdf

Can an Abusive Partner Change? https://www.loveisrespect.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/DAC-Quiz-final.pdf

Healthy Versus Unhealthy Relationship Chart: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/54da632be4b0c3a7f3a8a90d/t/55689339e4b0d6fc6b6e2f28/1432916793921/Healthy+vs+Unhealthy.pdf 

Medina Karagic is a Tampa Bay writer, photographer, and spoken word poet who transforms trials and tribulations into art. Her work moves others to discover solace in introspection and the vulnerability of the human experience. Owner of élan vital photography: https://www.elanvital.photography/
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