The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Domestic abuse hard to leave, speaker says

By Justin Gladney/reporter

Mary Lee Hafley, CEO of SafeHaven of Tarrant County, and TCC student Ana, a domestic abuse survivor who did not use her last name because of a past relationship, spoke on Get the Facts on Domestic Violence at the annual Women’s Symposium.

“When we say domestic violence, we think of it as an adult issue or college issue or a high school issue,” Hafley told the South Campus audience March 31.“No! It is everybody’s issue.”

She discussed the warning signs of domestic abuse as well as abuse’s effects on people’s lives. For instance, she said one in six 12-year-olds have experienced some kind of relationship violence.

“We have a responsibility to talk about it and act,” she said. “Domestic violence is about power and control. What can I do? Talk about it.”

A key, Hafley said, is to get involved in the lives of people in a relationship with an abuser. Such people are usually cut off and tricked into believing they are worthless and have no friends, she said, so do not give up on them no matter what they say.

Hafley listed warning signs of domestic abuse in one’s own life including forced sex, insulting of partner, family and friends, isolation, humiliation, punishment of children or pets when the abuser is angry, restriction of financial independence or restriction of movements.

Ana, a SafeHaven client, brought personal insight into the life of someone in an abusive relationship.

“I’m the daughter of a retired military man, who is also a police officer,” she said, “so it can happen to anyone.”

Ana was in an abusive marriage for about 10 years, she said, and had two children with the abuser.

The reason she stayed in the relationship so long, she said, was that she couldn’t envision that the abuse wasn’t her fault.

“When you’re in that box, you don’t see it,” she said.

People asked her why she did not just leave.

“But it is easier said than done,” she said, adding that the abuser knew her family and friends and would threaten that no matter where she went, he would find her.

Her spouse would constantly physically and psychologically degrade her, Ana said.

“I always thought it was just me or it was my fault,” she said.

This was a common theme expressed in the presentation.

The psychological abuse forced Ana to push family and friends away.

“In the 10 years I was with him, my family had no idea this was going on,” she said.

Ana emphasized the need for helping victims even if they say they do not want or need help.

“Don’t judge the victims,” she said. “Don’t give up on them. Domestic abuse does not get better. It only gets worse and more frequent.”

The solution, she said, is to get out as soon as possible.

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