I used to be a rape and spouse abuse counselor. I was on call 40 hours per week. Helping women (mostly) leave their abusive relationships and coaching them to a different way of living. I was the one that showed up in the Emergency Room when they actually sought medical attention. It was there that I learned that medical attention was only sought when the beatings were life threatening or witnessed by some higher authority, usually the police.
I learned in my tenure there that the day the shelter was the fullest was today. The Monday after Super Bowl Sunday. I mean it makes sense, lots of drinking and high emotions that are not being managed by someone well on a good day. Pour a whole bunch of substance all over that and it made sense. But I remember at the time being completely dumbfounded. A day, which for my entire life, was just a fun day with friends often was the worst nightmare imagined for others.
I immediately felt my privilege to have been raised by the parents I had and to have had the upbringing that I did. No one in my house was ever beaten. No one was physically assaulted. There was dysfunction but it was not like that.
It was then that I realized that I had no clue how many other people lived. And Super Bowl Sunday was forever changed for me. That was some 25 years ago, but I still think of it every single year. I start off my Super Bowl Sunday with a prayer for all those women, children who will suffer horrific abuse. I pray that I may be part of a greater solution. I pray for their safety and wellbeing.
I had a friend one time tell me that it was a shame that I let this ruin a fun event in my life. Quite the contrary, it didn’t ruin it. But it made it more real. It isn’t just a fun day. That is a privilege that I have been lucky to hold. I have not ever had to live in constant fear that I was going to be backhanded, raped or beaten within an inch of my life, not on Super Bowl Sunday by someone who professed to love me...
I get that to some it might “ruin” the day. But I feel like if they have endure and survive it, then I can at least take a moment to pray for their safety. I can pray that they seek shelter and find support and a way out. The most dangerous time in a woman’s life who is living in this type of situation is the day she leaves. The lethality of her situation increases exponentially. So if you have ever wondered why she stays, it is because her risk of death becomes a much larger threat than if she stays. And if you have never been faced with that situation, then how could you possibly judge or even really understand?
So today I want to give a shout out to all the people who have the courage to leave their abusive homes and seek safer shelter. And to all the people who are there to receive them. To all the counselors and workers who woman the frontlines of domestic violence every single day. You are amazing, wonderful and life alteringly important.
I know that many who leave, return. But that doesn’t make the mission and calling any less important. It is hard to think that you deserve better when the whole of your life has given you plenty of evidence that you do not. It is hard to face your own addiction and mental health issues. There are no easy solutions for the issues that plague us as individuals, as women, as human beings in relation with each other.
Today, I will take several moments to acknowledge that there are many who suffer today. Many who are running for their lives. Many who will leave behind so much just in order to see the rising sun tomorrow. And I will acknowledge that I am so very blessed and lucky to have the life I have.
As a divorce coach, domestic violence is part of the job. I have coached many women, and a few men, whose relationship looks amazing on the outside but inside that home, it is a prison filled with lies, abuse and demeaning commentary that rules the interior as well as exterior of people’s lives.
So on this day with domestic violence shelters full, if you need help, please reach out. I promise to do what I can to help. I will do so free of charge. If you are being abused, I can help you access resources and find the courage to find a different way to live. Notice I didn’t say better, because I have done this type of work long enough to know, that better isn’t always an option. But different always is.
We are complicated people who do the things we do, pick the partners we select, and stay in relationships that do not serve us for a myriad of reasons. It isn’t simple to figure it all out and it isn’t easy to change long standing patterns. And this is only complicated more by our own mental health and addiction issues. But I know how to change. I have done similar work myself and there are options even when none seem available or accessible. I can help. Call me. I would be honored to help you take a road where Super Bowl Sunday could be just a day where the only violence you witness is on the screen and is just a game.