In the wake of a disturbing video showing the now ex-NFL player, Ray Rice, hitting his then fiancée, Janay Rice in an elevator, there has been an increase in media discussions on the atrocity that is domestic violence.
Along with the shock of witnessing a famed football star and his wife engage in domestic abuse, the video also made waves regarding the fact that the couple wed shortly after the incident. Although no one can speak for the reasons Janay Rice may have for marrying her now-husband, it is unfortunately a common response.
Even the strongest, most successful women can find themselves tolerating the very things they said they never would. Some women struggle with co-dependency, making their relationships unhealthy and volatile, yet they stay and even come to the defense of their abusive partner; some women are scared of financial and physical retaliation, others fear judgment. Unlike random acts of violence, domestic abuse is shrouded by stigma, fear and unhealthy love that keep it hidden and very dangerous.
Domestic violence is alarmingly common: according to government statistics, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence, yet it is still a very taboo conversation. Along with financial devastation like homelessness and physical injury, domestic violence significantly influences a woman’s emotional, social and mental health.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, women who have experienced domestic violence have higher rates of depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder. Threats, intimidation, isolation and control leave lasting scars on a woman’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Survivors may have difficulty coping and experience feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem and dissociation.
The physical, mental and emotional trauma caused by domestic violence can be long lasting and debilitating. Many women feel broken, depressed and unworthy of a happy life. Although it requires learning how to open up and deal with painful memories and emotions, it is possible to heal from this trauma and create a life with zero tolerance for abuse.