How love ‘blinds’ domestic violence victims

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Greg Nash
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
Growing up, I noticed early on that she was different. Whenever I went to her house, she would   always squint; as she left her can of soda and burning cigarettes to greet me. She strained her eyes and came up close as she tried to detail my face. I noticed her gray eye, the one she is blind in from being physically abused. All I ever was told growing up was that she was hurt badly by her husband.

Married young with five kids, she separated from her husband due to the constant rage of his brutal attacks. Neighbors saw the toll and affects it was taking on her and many feared if one more incident occurred, she wouldn't survive. Word got back to her family across the Alabama-Georgia state line and they rescued her.
The process definitely wasn't easy. Being a country girl in a new, big city had to be frightening. Due to her condition, she couldn't work and had to rely on government assistance. I can imagine her frame of mind being in disarray with all the uncertainties going on in her life.

I never understood how hard being a single parent, let alone a domestic violence survivor, is until I gained understanding of her trials and tribulations over the years.
It was always instilled in me and I still believe that anyone that doesn't protect and provide for their family, especially their spouse, in every way possible, doesn't deserve the great title and responsibility it comes with being a husband or wife.

Even though I witnessed firsthand the aftermath of a domestic violence survivor's struggle, at first, I didn't take heed or realize how dynamic the situation was and still is. I used to always wonder, "Why don't  [domestic violence victims] just leave?", "Do they not love themselves enough to get out of harm's way?", "How can you continue to be in love with a person that obviously doesn't care about you?" I asked these questions when all along, I had the answers just miles away from home; my domestic violence survivor - my grandmother.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is one of the most prevalent social issues facing our society. Domestic violence is forcefully intimidating, physically assaulting, sexually assaulting and/or other abusive actions used as a controlling mechanism by one intimate partner towards another. 
On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States - more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year. Additionally, nearly three in 10 women and one in 10 men in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner and report a related impact on their functioning.

Many individuals in our society still believe that domestic violence is a private matter between two partners. Only with raising awareness and facilitating education - properly channeled through schools, churches and community gatherings - will change such attitudes.

Since then, my attitude and awareness has definitely changed after finally getting full details on my grandmother's struggles as I got older. One day, while viewing old pictures, I saw a beautiful woman with a familiar, younger face. I saw her big brown eyes and perfect, wide smile, with her husband, together for the first time. It was a surreal experience seeing my grandmother as a young woman, full of life Love can be blind and love blinded my grandmother.

Knowing the everyday battles of not only her life, but the hardened upbringing of her children made me resent those who commit domestic violence. Till this day, I don't ask my grandmother about the situation out of shame for a man I've never even met. However, seeing her condition and struggle has made me very involved in helping those who are victims become empowered to be a domestic violence survivor. I want to help individuals in turning an ugly situation into one that promotes positivity by gaining the ability to seek help. I want them to no longer feel vulnerable and alone.

I challenge individuals to take a stand to domestic violence. Support and help guide those to accomplish going into the right direction of finding peace of mind and a safe well-being. Assist victims until they become domestic violence survivors. The challenge doesn't stop once victim's leaves their abusive partners. Don't pressure victims to leave. Everyone must experience their rock bottom moment to realize that enough is enough and accomplish their road to recovery. Be patient yet persistent. Keep hope alive and enjoy and love yourself. Heal again to allow you to love and be loved.