Domestic violence survivor: 'I made a successful escape'

  • Published
  • By Alison Stewart
  • Hawaii Air National Guard/Pacific Air Forces Intelligence Systems Analyst
I'm not ashamed to admit that I am a survivor of domestic violence.

It's been eight years since I broke away from my ex-husband/abuser, but I never take for granted how blessed I am to be alive. Shortly after I escaped my abuser, one of the first life-changing things I did was walk into the recruiter's office to join the Hawaii Air National Guard. Being part of the HIANG rejuvenated my sense of independence and opened up new professional opportunities not available anywhere else. Words cannot describe how good it feels to be able to get into the car and go wherever I want to without the fear of having a fist raised at me when I get back home.

One in four women are victims of domestic violence, and it's a problem that is difficult to profile since it cuts across all socio-economic groups. Whether it's physical or emotional abuse, the abuser almost always starts small, graduating to increasingly harsh behavior over time. After a severe episode of abuse where my ex-husband unleashed a head blow that caused partial hearing loss in my left ear, I realized that I'd rather die a free woman rather than die as his prisoner.

The solution to the problem seems so simple, and is the source of the biggest question that arises: "Why don't you just leave?" From personal experience, I can testify that it's not easy. In addition to the mental preparation, you need to have a survival plan and support system in place. Fortunately for me, I made a successful escape with the help of my family (especially my mom) and wonderful friends. If you are stationed in Hawaii and away from family, you may not have that network of personal support that I did, but know that if you do need the help, there is a wealth of resources here for you.

Restricted reporting gives victim of domestic abuse the option to make a restricted report to a victim advocate, health care provider and family advocacy without starting a law enforcement investigation or having the victim's or alleged offender's commander notified.

Restricted reporting is intended to give victims access to services and support. Family Advocacy will work with the victims to help them understand all of their options.

Healthcare providers will initiate the appropriate care and treatment, and will refer the domestic abuse only to Family Advocacy Program and/or a victim advocate. There are some exceptions and limits to the restricted reporting option. October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month and we need to continue to raise awareness.

If you're not sure if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, here are some signs:

Do you:
· Feel afraid of your partner most of the time?
· Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
· Feel that you can't do anything right for your partner?
· Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
· Feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Does your partner:
· Have a bad and unpredictable temper?
· Humiliate or yell at you, especially in public?
· Hurt you, threaten to hurt or kill you?
· Shove, slap you or hit you?
· Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons?
· Act excessively jealous and possessive?
· Control where you go and what you do?
· Stop you from seeing or talking to friends/family?
· Limit your access to money, the phone (and check your call logs), and the car?
· Constantly check up on you?
· Tell you you're a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?
· See you as property or an object, rather than as a person?
· Destroy your property, kill or threaten to kill your pets?
· Blame you for all his wrong-doings?
· Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?

Don't hesitate to call for help! Wear the color purple to support anti-domestic violence.