Into the Free explores the topic of domestic violence and the destructive cycles that are carried from one generation to the next. Millie, her mother, and her grandmothers were all victims of domestic violence, as were Millie’s father, Jack, and her grandfather, The Reverend Paul Applewhite. These two men behaved monstrously at times, yet, their own abuse likely led to those behaviors.
Throughout Millie’s life, she struggles to define her own self-worth in spite of dysfunctional family models. While Millie turns to her faith to work her way past the pain, she does not believe forgiveness is an easy path, nor does she believe, as her mother does, that she can simply pray it all away. She sets realistic goals, makes critical choices, and finds her own way into the free.
While Millie’s story is a work of fiction, domestic violence is a serious international issue and we in America are not immune.
No Safe Place
As females, we are taught to lock our doors, avoid dark corners, and have keys in hand before we walk to our cars at night. All important safety measures, no doubt. But, the sad truth is, we may be most at risk in the place we call home.
Studies suggest that two-thirds of violent attacks against women are committed by a loved one. Here in the U.S., we consider ourselves champions for equal rights. Yet, as many as 1,500 women are killed each year by husbands or boyfriends, and the FBI reports as many as 2 million men per year beat their partners. Additionally, more than half a million women report being raped or sexually assaulted each year, and even more frightening is that experts believe most assaults go unreported.
These episodes occur across all socio-economic boundaries and affect not only the victim of the abuse, but the children in the home as well. Destructive cycles of abuse can linger for generations, especially when others in the community turn a blind eye. Ultimately, we are all to blame.
It Takes a Village
It is crucial that we stand up against abuse. Teachers, healthcare providers, neighbors, friends, we all must play a proactive role in preventing abuse. And that doesn’t just mean broken bones and bruises.
Abuse can occur in many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological. Ultimately, the abuser seeks complete control and will resort to any means necessary to achieve that goal. While many victims believe the abuse will end, studies show the abuse almost always gets worse. By the time it has reached an unbearable point, the victim is often too afraid to leave.
While women and children are usually the victims, men can be abused by their partners, as well. In fact, the CDC reports that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men in the U.S. are victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives. Each year, intimate partner violence (IPV) results in an estimated 2 million injuries among women and nearly 600,000 injuries among men.
Break the Cycle
If you or someone you know is in danger or has been the victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, help is available.
For local referrals or confidential counseling, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD). For emergencies, please call your local police at 911.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center – A leader in the national movement to end sexual violence, NSVRC is committed to the elimination of sexual violence through intervention, education, advocacy, and public policy. The home page includes a listing of Rape Crisis Centers by state.
National Organization for Women – NOW organizes many anti-violence campaigns and demonstrations throughout the country and provides information on violence against women.
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) 1-800-656-HOPE – RAINN is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. that operates a national toll-free hotline for victims of sexual assault.
U.S. Department of Justice — Violence Against Women Office – This office leads a national effort to combine tough new federal laws with assistance to states and localities to fight domestic violence and other crimes against women.
YWCA – The largest provider of shelter and services for female victims of violence and their families in the United States, more than 650,000 people come to the YWCA each year for assistance and support to overcome violence.
No Safe Place – PBS filmmakers created a documentary addressing the devastating impact of domestic violence in America. They maintain a useful website to offer information and resources as well as a Study Guide for teachers to provide crucial information to students within the classroom setting.
Love Is Not Abuse – Liz Claiborne’s teen dating violence website has great information for those living with violence as well as their loved ones.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – The NCADV offers current information for survivors and those dealing with violence.
The Family Violence Prevention Fund – This website provides informational resources which can be ordered, including “No Excuse for Abuse” materials.
The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence – This organization maintains a research-based website featuring publications and resources for those working to end domestic violence.
The National Center for Victims of Crime – This site includes materials on domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault.
Safe Place – This national organization provides immediate help and safety for young people in crisis through a network of sites sustained by qualified agencies, trained volunteers, and businesses.
For legal information, including referrals and detailed protective/restraining order information organized by state, visit www.womenslaw.org.