October is beautiful, busy, and full of things to pay attention to–things like domestic violence and emotional wellness. And, if you work it right, you might even get a day off to celebrate Columbus Day though I don’t know how you discover something that wasn’t lost but that’s a discussion for another day.
This month’s emphasis on these two issues deserves our time and involvement.
I started reading advice columns by Ann Landers and her sister, Dear Abby, almost as soon as I could read and though I didn’t really understand all the ins and outs, I learned that domestic violence is a slippery slope and regrettably it happens in even the nicest homes. The columnists were clear–what often starts out as love turns ugly pretty quickly.
Of course, we knew men in our community who spent weekends in jail because they beat their wives, but their bosses bailed them out for work Monday. The wives had broken bones and bruises, but they stayed until something worse led to a midnight disappearance.
According to www.ncadv.org/statistics, “the U.S. Justice Department reports 1.3 million women, and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year. Every 9 seconds, a woman in the U.S. is beaten or assaulted by a current or ex-significant other and one in four men are victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.” Family members may also be guilty of abuse.
The abuse may be physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional and may include rape, stalking, assaults like slapping, shoving, or pushing, demeaning remarks, and if left to fester, death. Periodically Dear Abby runs a column to help the abused recognize the signs so they can make safe decisions.
Warning signs include extreme jealousy, disconnection and alienation from financial resources, family, and friends, blaming the abused for not “obeying” and/or “causing” the violent episode, and using children or other family members as leverage to get their way.
If you are being abused, or know someone who is, carefully and safely seek help because leaving’s often the hardest and most dangerous time. It’s hard to understand why victims don’t leave after the first slap or shove, but when the victim’s self-esteem is gone and they have children and no means of support, walking away is not so easy.
Sadly, domestic violence calls are especially dangerous for law enforcement officers who respond and rescue. This month let’s pay attention and learn more about prevention because children of abusers often abuse too. Together we can end this vicious cycle.
Over the last few days, we’ve watched as Hurricane Ian pummeled Puerto Rico and Florida before moving on to the Carolinas and Georgia. The gushing muddy water, the drowned vehicles, and the sticks and rubble that used to be homes brought back images of wildfires, tornadoes, and disasters past.
My heart ached for those who lost everything, making emotional wellness awareness month more important than ever. It is a gentle reminder that mental health is as important as physical health. Flood and storm victims still suffer nightmares, panic attacks, and other mental challenges years later.
While we understand they’re happy to be alive, our emotional wellbeing means life is more than merely being alive. It’s those little things—Mama’s bible, Sissy’s baby pictures, Aunt Callie’s special shawl—that brightened our day.
Stuff can be replaced but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t important. As we donate, volunteer and help put lives back together, remember to say a prayer for the heart things we lost but still hold dear.
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.