We feel safer when we think domestic violence happens somewhere else to someone else.
In reality, domestic violence occurs in our neighborhoods and in our families. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, regardless of race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or economic status. Abusers control and terrorize our daughters, bosses, sisters, friends, and even our sons – who are most often abused by their male partners and sometimes their female partners. While I work to end domestic violence for so many reasons and in honor of so many people, rarely a day goes by when I don’t connect the work I do to the life and experiences of my aunt; a highly respected doctor and beloved mother.
There is a myth that women who are victims must have low self-esteem, but this is exactly that: a myth. My aunt was a trail blazer. She went to medical school when most women were told that their career options were limited to nurses, secretaries or teachers (three honorable and critical fields, but a narrow list at best). When my aunt was assaulted by her former partner, she tried to get the local justice system to hold the offender accountable. When the justice system failed her, she moved 500 miles to keep her and her children safe. She testified in front of the state legislature to help improve a system that would create a safer world with effective and real protections for victims and their children.