“Survivors, Not Just Victims”

Written by Angel Tran

 

If you ever had the chance to speak with a woman who is a victim of domestic violence, you’ll soon realize that she’s more than a victim…she’s a survivor.

In the past few months, I have had the honor to meet multiple women who have generously shared their personal stories with me.

And it astonishes me how much these women have endured. Never have I met such strong and amazing ladies.

My multicultural sorority, Sigma Psi Zeta, has given me many great opportunities to be educated by these survivors and has allowed me to raise awareness about domestic violence. In fact, I’m proud to say that our philanthropy is to combat the violence against women.

Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, my sorority has worked especially hard all across the nation to increase awareness and prevention through various campaigns and event fundraisers. This was my first time fully participating in DVAM and it has opened my eyes to issues I never noticed before.

As this month comes to an end, I want to touch more on the subject seeing as it is a really prevalent problem in our society, but does not really get addressed out in the open. It’s something that everyone should care about and be well informed on.

While I do not have personal experience with domestic violence myself, I have done enough research and gained major insight on the matter. I can tell you that there is definitely a lot more that meets the eye. Domestic violence is an atrocity that oftentimes goes overlooked because it occurs more behind the scenes.

From Sigma Psi Zeta’s national website, “Violence affects the lives of millions of women worldwide…It cuts across cultural and religious barriers, impeding the right of women to participate fully in society. Violence against women takes a dismaying variety of forms, and constitutes [as] a violation of basic human rights.”

The statistics are staggering.

When I learned that in the United States, every nine seconds a woman is beaten or assaulted, I was appalled. Everyday, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. And it is so disheartening to know that the leading cause of injury to women is actually domestic violence–more than rapes, muggings, and car accidents combined.

While a great number of the female population are faced with domestic violence, they are often silent. As a matter of fact, of all the physical assaults against women, only a mere 25% are actually reported to the police annually. As horrible as that sounds, we also have to be understanding as to why these women are afraid of their attackers.

That’s where you and I come into the picture.

It’s time to stop being bystanders and start calling for change. As great as it is that we are raising awareness during the month of October, we need to be doing this all the time. There are consistently victims out there who can’t speak out against their attacker and it is our duty to be that voice. It’s time to go from being passive to active; don’t make excuses like “it’s not my problem” or “it’s none of my business” because it is. And if you believe otherwise, then that makes you part of the problem too.

These women need us and if they receive the right kind of help, they transform into some of the most powerful and influential people you will ever encounter.

Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that women who have been abused and assaulted are “damaged goods.” I beg to differ.

A woman who has been through that kind of unspeakable pain and suffering, yet is still able to smile and remain hopeful at the end of the day, is a miracle. Just the fact that there are females out there who survived domestic violence and came close to death is amazing in itself. And then there are those ladies out there who go above and beyond to share their personal experiences with the world to raise awareness and prevent future incidents…they are heroes.

Other victims who are currently either going through domestic violence or recovering from it can turn to these incredibly strong and passionate survivors, and see that they all went through the same problems. And this gives them the one thing they really need: hope.

That’s the key word here. Hope.

Survivors of domestic violence are living proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

But they can’t make that journey alone.

By taking action now and continuously advocating for women’s rights, we can break the silence.

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Credit: domesticshelters.org

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[Statistics can be found at The Huffington PostDomesticViolenceStatistics.org, and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. ]

[For more help and information, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline.]

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