Domestic abuse survivors speak out
By Holly Neumann
CAP Services held a silent walk Oct. 12 to raise awareness about domestic violence and to honor the victims and survivors.
They shared statistics on domestic violence.
In 2022, there were 73 reported homicides in Wisconsin related to domestic violence. This amounts to one death ever five days. Of these homicides, 12 percent were children under the age of 18, spanning across 72 counties in Wisconsin. The youngest victim was only 4 weeks old.
On average, there are at least 21,320 calls made to domestic violence hotlines across the state every day. The problem affects every gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and socio-economic background.
One victim shared her story of dealing with domestic violence and how she thought she could never get out from under the control of her ex-fiance.
To help ensure their safety, names of the victim and the victim advocates have not been used.
“He did it slowly so I did not realize it was happening,” she said. “He prevented me from seeing my family and most of my friends. He kept me home with the kids, so he could go out and use drugs and cheat on me.”
She felt hopeless
“He told me that my family didn’t care or have time for me,” she said. “Over time I started to believe it.”
When she told him she was going to see her brother, his anger showed when he realized he did not have control over her anymore.
Later, she locked herself in the bedroom, so he could calm down. But he broke the door down.
“He had a sick look on his face as if to say, ‘Where are you going to go now?’” she said. “He held me down and said he could hurt me if he really wanted to and prevented me to call the police.”
He left bruises on her arms and chest.
“In that moment the adrenalin and the fight or flight hits you,” she said. “You are not strong enough to fight him, he is bigger than you.”
She said she feared if whe would be able to get out of that situation. It seemed like forever before she could call the police.
“Abuse is something that is uncomfortable to talk about,” she said. “It is thought about more. We all know someone that has experienced it in one form or another. It’s your own private battle and can be embarrassing.”
It has been almost one year since she left that situation and she is on the road to recovery. She is grateful that she and her daughter were not seriously hurt.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, CAP Services wants to raise awareness in the community.
“A lot of people have trouble coming forward, whether it’s the stigma or people lashing back at them,” said one CAP Services advocate. “The biggest concern is usually fear. In addition to this, when people do leave these situations, that is sometimes the most dangerous time. Leaving does not always mean safety.”
Safety planning and connecting with an advocate can help.
“Having a conversation with somebody in a judgment free space, so that they can put those pieces together,” the advocate said. “The biggest misconception is that people think it is easy to just leave, and its not. It is a very complex situation for everyone. And every situation is different, but there are many reasons many people cannot just leave.”
Some of those reasons include children being involved, safety issues, financial issues and controlling going on.
Violence is control
Domestic violence is more than just a hit or a punch.
“Domestic violence is about control,” said the advocate. “Control of what they are spending and what they are doing. And the control level can be very severe for some people. It can also be stalking and isolation.”
For men, domestic violence is hard to report.
“People historically believe that men cannot be abused, which is not true,” said the advocate. “We have had multiple men come forward and work with our services. It is nice to see that they are strong enough to do that.”
Domestic violence affects communities.
“For example, abuse between parents affects children,” said an advocate. “Children then go to school and could potentially struggle to have healthy relationships with classmates, struggles with self-esteem and coping skills. It is our job within the community to continue conversations, be well informed with information and resources, and stop the cycle of generational trauma and abuse.”
CAP Services Family Crisis Center is located at 101 Tower Road, in Waupaca, and offers free and confidential services to victims and survivors, including their friends and families.
Their core services include support, safety planning and court accompaniment. Support looks different for every client and each client is able to make their own decisions based on the support that is provided.
“If someone you know is in a violent situation, the best thing you can do for them is to believe them,” said the advocate. “Then connect them with services.”
There is a 24-hour line that they can call to get connected with an advocate immediately by calling 1-800-472-3377.