Jane is twelve years old, and she has a younger sister. She is your average student from what seems to be your average family. Last night, she held her little sister back as they watched their mother being beaten black and blue because their father had had a hard day at work. Jane has seen this before, but this time her mother does not make it out of the fight. Jane and her little sister are sent to live with a relative, while their father goes to jail. Jane vows that the situation that killed her mother will never happen to her.
Do you know Jane? Have you seen her smile? Do you know that her teachers say she has potential? Or are you familiar with the terror she faces everyday reliving the night when her Dad, who had promised the week before that the violence was over, put an end to her mother’s life? It started with verbal abuse, then it progressed with pushing, next the kicking began, and we now know how it ended. Those are the steps in the progression of domestic violence. In the beginning stages of domestic violence it is verbal abuse. Simple seeming name calling and joking that severely lowers the victims self - esteem. At the moderate level begins the physical abuse, kicking, hitting, pushing, usually only with hands or feet. When the ravager reaches the severe level weapons come into the picture: belts, guns, sticks, even hot pots off the stove. In this stage there is choking and rape.
Jane’s mother had plenty of chances to escape, but why didn’t she leave? First, she was embarrassed. Her husband was a pretty “good” guy to the community, and even though it seemed petty, really, what would her friends say if she told them? It is important to remember if someone comes to you with a problem like this, the didn’t do anything to deserve it. She, also, knew that 3/4 of domestic assaults reported were inflicted after separation. She was afraid to stay and afraid to leave. After all, women are most likely to be murdered when attempting to report the violence or while they are trying to leave the environment where the abuser is.
So, you ask, why leave if he’s probably going to get me anyway? My answer is simple, for the children. One third of the children who witness the battering of their mothers demonstrate significant behavioral and emotional problems. These include stuttering, anxiety and fears, sleep disruption, excessive crying and school problems. Do not let the violence continue by showing young girls that when he needs a punching bag to let out his anger, she should be the one. Because no young man has the right to hit his girlfriend for any reason. Because the only way to teach that hitting is wrong is by example, by leaving. By showing the person who thinks they are in control with fists, that really they are only cowards. The negative effects can be diminished if the child benefits from intervention by the law and domestic violence programs, most times children enrolled in such programs remain anonymous.
Jane has two wonderful children, a beautiful home, and a successful career at a job she loves. Jane has warm blue tears falling from a cold, aching black eye. Jane’s husband has a great career to, except his is a lot more stressful, and that is what he told her last night when he shoved his fists full of rage into her delicate body. Once again, it won’t happen anymore. He promised, but he’s promised before. This time Jane’s leaving. She takes her two beautiful children and she puts them in the car. She doesn’t say good - bye, she just leaves a note that reads “I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.”