It’s a common known fact and an irrepressible belief that statistics are more than a bit screwy. They are. They serve nothing more than to be helpful guidelines to indicate a general perception is either true or false.
October is Domestic Violence awareness month, and, let’s be honest. The statistics are strewed because of underreporting. If there was a way to document the physical and sexual assaults, stalking, rapes, intimidation, coersion, threats, and abuse – the numbers would be out of this world.
And they are not numbers, they are usually womyn, womyn of color, women of poverty, womyn in incarceration, womyn suffering from addiction, women with mental illness, womyn with disability, transgender, gay, lesbian, transexual, and gender-questioning womyn. Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.*
I don’t agree. Those numbers are too low.
I once worked as a sexual assualt educator and advocate in Aberdeen, Washington. In just 11 months – 11 months – I had worked on almost a hundred cases of rape, incest, sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence. Of those cases guess how many of those cases were investigated and went through an actual court with a real judge and attorney? One. And he was set free for molesting two young girls.
There are so many womyn whose stories are untold, whose mere survival is a damn miracle because no one could intervene or find resources for these womyn in a decaying town, ridden with poverty and secrecy.
One day, back in the spring of 2002, I received a phone call. A breathy whisper kept calling back to my agency, asking if there was a way to get her federal education loan money even though she plans on not going to class. I couldn’t make sense of the connections. “No one knows,” is how she describes his violence, his years of keeping her close with threats and beatings. She whispered in description of her background, how her husband will come after her, how he’ll twist the story and say she has problems and needs to be found and try to get people to help him find her.
A few weeks later she stopped calling.
A few weeks after that, I noticed fliers going up in the community with pictures of a beautiful young Latina women who was in school and went missing. I began to worry. The language pleaded, “Please help find my precious baby. We just want her safe back home. She is missed.”
Immediately, my boss, who had been taking some of her calls as well, recognized her as our caller, “She got the money. The loans came in a few weeks ago. This is her. She got out. This is her husband, trying to find her.”
“You don’t think that he did something to her and now he’s just saying she’s missing?”
She shook her head, “No, he wouldn’t go to that much trouble trying to put attention on her unless he can’t find her.”
I slowly began to understand the demonic mind of DV and the courage of the womyn who find a way to escape.
“She got out.”
My boss started walking in front of me with a soft smile on her face, a face once beaten down by her own partner, “Good for her.”
*Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, U.S. Dep’t of Just., NCJ 183781, Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, at iv (2000), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/183781.htm