Valentine’s Day is for celebrating the love in our lives. For those in an abusive relationship, this holiday may not be something to be celebrated but something to fear. As Valentine’s Day approaches, we should pause to remember that as we celebrate love, we should also act to preserve and protect it from darker impulses.
The holidays can sometimes bring out the worst in partners. In fact, violence statistically increases during holiday periods. They are, for many, times of stress and disagreement. Valentine’s Day is no exception. Domestic violence is one of the most pressing public health issues we face. According to the World Health Organization, up to 69% of women report physical abuse by an intimate partner at least once in their lifetime. Oklahoma ranks 3rd in the nation in the number of women murdered by an intimate partner.
The typical Valentine’s Day scenario follows the same pattern. The abuser in a relationship will present his loved one with flowers, chocolates or a card on Valentine’s Day. If there is a history of domestic abuse, the recipient’s reaction may not be what the gift giver hoped it would be. If his prior behavior has been abusive to the woman in his life, she might be apprehensive, fearful or suspicious of his gift-giving motives. And if she doesn’t display the expected gratitude and appreciation, the outcome can be devastating.
Domestic violence is often cyclical, and almost always controlling. These relationships experience honeymoon periods where the abuser appears affectionate and loving, and physical abuse may be non-existent. Even verbal, sexual or other abuse may be decreased or absent for a time. But as time goes on, the abuser will again show his (or her) true colors. Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity for an abuser to shower their loved one with gifts in a manipulative way to convince her that he’s changed and all his violent behavior is in the past.
One thing abusers do is isolate their victims by cutting off their relationships with the outside world, particularly with family and friends. So as Valentine’s Day approaches, we should be vigilant for any signs of controlling behaviors or other abuse. If you know someone who is suffering in a violent relationship, give them the gift of your support. Keep in touch on a regular basis and reach out to that person who may be suffering in silence. Without judgment or demand, offer your support. Your listening ear may be more valuable than any Valentine they receive. Encourage them to seek help by calling the Domestic Violence Hotline at 405-917-9922.
Remember to celebrate the love in your life. For many, violence is routine and Valentines are rare. Appreciate your healthy relationships and reach out to those who are less fortunate.
Call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 405-917-9922 if you or someone you know needs help.