[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he thought of the cruelty that many women, children and sometimes men have to suffer when abused by the hands of someone they love truly disturbs me. I mean, the world we live in has enough cruelty to give to a person when they step outside of her or his home, and the one safe, stable and loving environment should be the one place they call home.
Each day many women wear a mask and they hide behind their makeup. The abuse they endure in their home has not only overtaken them physically, but mentally and emotionally; they are broken and have nothing else to give. However, they put on their makeup and boldly wear their lipstick and if they are not in too much pain they stand tall and walk in their stilettos only to hide the fact that the one person that the world believes adores them is the one person who stayed up late beating them the night before.
As they beg for mercy, they cover their face as they struggle to understand the true meaning of love, and, when it is over, they blame themselves for his mistake and forgivingly accepts his flowers and his apologies full of blame when he says “I’m sorry, you made me do it.”
October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women in the United States will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Women living with HIV are vulnerable to violence due to their serostatus. There are many reasons why they stay in abusive relationships. Some fear their status will be disclosed if they seek help and many victims living with HIV/AIDS may believe that their only hope for a relationship is to stay with their current partner. Not to be forgotten, members of the LGBTQ community are also drastically suffering from intimate partner violence (IPV) and this should be told around the globe because everyone deserves to be loved and treated with respect.
A report by the Anti-Violence Project states that in 2013, seventy-six percent of all reported IPV homicide victims were gay men, a significant increase from the year before when gay men comprised forty-eight percent of all reported IPV homicide victims. “The truly alarming number of gay men killed due to intimate partner violence indicates a need to expand the national discourse around this form of abuse, to ensure that it includes gay men, bisexual people, transgender, and gender non-conforming people. This is a crisis that affects everyone,” stated Justin Shaw, Executive Director of the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, in a 2014 interview for Between The Lines.
In Dallas, Texas, our organization SAAVED, Inc., has partnered with a fantastic domestic violence organization called Recovery First Community Development Center (RFCDC) to help individuals who suffer from domestic violence.
RFCDC is a social service agency whose primary focus is (but not limited to) individuals of low income. RFCDC was founded in 2001 by Cleo and Deborah Davis. After being released from prison and not having enough resources available to Mr. Davis, he had a vision to expand services to individuals being released from prison and his wife and co-founder Mrs. Davis was the driving force of bringing the vision to past.
When I asked her, what do you want people to know about RFCDC? Mrs. Davis replied, “Besides there availability to service the community and education through life skills and purpose classes, provide community conferences on social issues,” she elaborated on “their passion to help others and to develop each person’s qualities.”
RFCDC has developed a “Don’t Hide” campaign and Mrs. Davis said the campaign aims to promote and encourage victims and their neighbors to not keep that information of abuse to themselves, to put a safety plan together for escape, to expose the abuser, and to end the abuse. She encourages others to get involved by becoming an advocate who can help change the laws and to stand with the victims and protect their rights. If individuals enter into their program they provide HIV testing in collaboration with SAAVED, Inc., and educate them on how they can become infected from their abuser and place them in the wellness clinic to obtain medical services that will educate them on “how to live with HIV/AIDS and to maintain a productive and healthy life.”
She states that, in her opinion, “many victims stay in abusive relationships because of low self-esteem, fear and a lot of times they feel they are not worthy of anything more because of molestation and child abuse.” She wants victims to know that they must first overcome their fears and know there is a way out. Help is here and RFCDC is there for you.
In closing, domestic violence is a major issue that does not need to be hidden. Therefore, “Don’t Hide.” Seek help, and expose your abuser and together we will win.
For more information about #DONTHIDE and Recovery First CDC, log on to: www.recoveryfirstcdc.com. Wear Purple and End Domestic Violence!
Tyeshia Alston is a native of Dallas, Texas, and an HIV/AIDS activist, who “will go anywhere where people will listen.” She has done everything from travel to D.C. to speak with legislators about better healthcare access and how the disease has impacted communities to serving on panels for NMAC and other organizations and bringing her message to talk shows. In 2005 at the age of twenty-five, Alston was diagnosed with HIV and she has been on a mission since 2006 to educate people (especially our youth) about HIV/AIDS. Visit www.saaved.org to learn more about her community-based work. Also, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to email Ms. Alston at [email protected].