Learn to recognize the signs of domestic violence, and grow to care enough to help

This editorial column written by Maria McCoy was published in the most recent print edition of The GRIP.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and that is a wonderful, worthy cause. I also want you to be aware that it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This week, a group of us came together to save a young lady from a home in which she was allegedly repeatedly abused and neglected. Sometimes, as parents, and as humans, we tend to overlook certain signs of such abuse. It isn’t because we are intentionally doing it, but more so because we have become so used to moving, so used to being busy, that we sometimes miss the pain of another.

It is important for children and teenagers to be able to speak up when they are being abused. It is also important for adults to be able to do the same.

You can’t even log onto Facebook without seeing some story of abuse clogging your feed. Do you read the stories or do you just scroll past? I think our society has become so accustomed to these stories that it dims the actual abuse. Instead of fighting the abuse, we share the story to give our own commentary, but what are you really doing? Are you checking on these kids? Are you checking on the wife who seems to fall an awful lot? We must get outside of our own lives and see the bleeding world around us.

The statistics are harsh – 24 people every minute are victims of rape, physical assault or stalking. That means more than 12 million people in the United States every year experience this type of abuse, and aside from sharing the story, what are we doing about it?

Our country must change the narrative on abuse. Folks often do not speak up because they aren’t sure and because they don’t want to ruin another life by making such an accusation. On the other hand, speaking up may be exactly what saves another person.

Yes, we all have our own skeletons, so we are hesitant to be that person – the one who causes strife in another life. Obviously, we must believe in our criminal justice system, our judges and our children services. When reports are made, there is a process – a protocol on how they are to handle the report and the investigations. Without these people, the abusers continue to abuse and victims continue to be victimized.

There are times though, when waiting is not safe and then normal people have to step in and be the heroes for the day. I give myself no credit, because I’d like to think that the response I had was human. I like to think that anyone in my position would have done what I did, but after dealing with this, it is crystal clear that many people have not chosen to do so, and it took someone else bringing it to my attention for me to even connect the dots on a picture that should have already been painted for me.

If not for a group of five citizens this week, a girl would still be suffering her abuse in silence, and I almost didn’t see it. Stop being an ordinary citizen- you were never meant to be such. You can be a hero to someone suffering right now. You can save a life today.

For those girls out there, those boys out there, the husbands and wives, girlfriends or boyfriends – for anyone suffering domestic violence abuse, please seek help. The abuser will only continue to control and contain you. Eventually, your injuries will be too severe for you to go on. Get the help that you need now. If you are too scared to call the authorities, contact me. I will do all that I can for you. I have a whole group of citizens now ready to help get you to a safe place. You can reach me at nwcfgriffin@gmail.com.

There is also a local 24-hour emergency crisis hotline at 770-460-1604.

Call someone. Call anyone. Just make the call.


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