I’ve heard from many a cop, criminal justice major, therapist, and legal professional about abusive relationships. They all reference the cycle of abuse. Image

But the description that really stuck with me was the boiling frog story.

“A scientist conducted an experiment. She put frog number one into a pan of very hot water. The frog jumped right out. Then she placed frog number two in a pan of cool water. This frog didn’t jump out. Very gradually, the scientist raised the temperature of the water. The frog gradually adapted until it boiled to death.”

Though morbid, it is quite effective in describing an abusive relationship. It answers the questions that victims are asked most often:

Image

When I was younger, I’d often watch Lifetime movies with my mother that displayed abusive relationships. Naïve to the realities of such situations, I would snobbishly remark, “If I were her, I would have left already. I would have fought back.”

Fast forward to August of 2011: my junior year of college. My ex-boyfriend re-entered the picture (we had broken up that June) and what followed changed my views on those Lifetime characters forever.

Because I was no longer a viewer – I was living it.

What little control I had slipped out of my hands very quickly, but he was sneaky about it.

It started small, with lies and emotional manipulation. I would bring up something that bothered me and he would immediately shoot it down. He would minimalize the issue, and, in consequence, invalidate my feelings.

Over time, the abuse grew. Not only was it emotional, but also sexual, verbal, and physical. I went from being screamed at and pinned to the wall to being thrown on the ground and threatened.

My roommate saw him pin me to the wall once, and started crying. She had a long conversation with him. He said, “I never hit her.” He didn’t understand that abuse is so much more than that.Image

He gradually increased his efforts until I found myself being strangled on a bed in the dark. He was grinning as he watched me struggle. “How the hell did I get here?” I wondered, terrified.

I was put into the cool water – that’s how. I didn’t detect any danger, not until my life was in his hands. It was at that moment I knew what was going on. I had to get out.

With the help of the UTSA Police Department, I did. Unfortunately, many people don’t.

On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, based on a 2010 NISVS survey. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 12 million women and men.

If you think that it’s not a big issue, then you’re wrong. 2 million injuries and 1,300 deaths are caused each year as a result of domestic violence.

Everyone says, “It won’t happen to me.” Even I said that. But it did.

IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU, TOO.

But you don’t have to allow it to continue.

Know the signs. Take red flags seriously, no matter how small. Stand up for yourself.

And more than anything else: value yourself over the approval of someone else.

If you or someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

 -Samantha Davis

Graphics: Respect4Women.org, Piccoblogg.blogspot.com

Sources: The Verbally Abusive Relationship, CDC.gov, Click to Empower, But He Never Hit Me, National Domestic Violence Hotline

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