By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The month of October is a busy time, between switching out summer and fall clothing and shoes, observing the trees changing color, then creating a colorful carpet on the once-green lawns and woodlands, and preparing for the holiday season that comes far too soon for the wallets and bank accounts but never soon enough for family get-togethers,
This year, breast cancer has topped the awareness programs in our own county and across the country. While cancer remains one of the most physically and medically challenging diseases and leading cause of deaths in our country, the month of October has highlighted awareness and prevention in all forms of media.
But another theme that once marked the month of October, but one that has received less attention in the past few years, is Domestic Violence Prevention. Nearly a decade ago, I joined several dozen people in front of the Laurel County Courthouse for candlelight vigils to remember the many victims of domestic violence. The dark purple ribbons that signified our cause was a token of remembrance for the many men — but mostly women — who lost their lives from an abusive relationship.
Perhaps the taboo of domestic violence resulted in the loss of public attention to this horrid and degrading aspect of human nature — the dominating and abusive personality that thrives on control and torment of another person under the pretense of “love.” It is not uncommon in abusive relationships for the dominant persons to threaten to kill themselves and/or kill their companions. Sometimes these threats extend to the children involved, even though the particular child may not be the biological child of the abuser. Other threats may extend to family members, friends or other potential partners if the abused person leaves that relationship.
Such was the case with Pamela Bobbitt, a 25-year-old woman who died last week from multiple stab wounds by the hand of her boyfriend. The distraught father, aunt and cousin still stood near the apartment door the next morning where the young woman’s blood was smeared. Just inside the front door was a puddle of blood measuring about four inches wide, and the father said the two blotches of his daughter’s blood in the kitchen area were even larger than that in the entrance way.
The partially unwrapped but uneaten sandwich and fries in the McDonald’s bag that still lay in the yard outside Bobbitt’s apartment indicates the argument that inevitably cost Bobbitt her life began as she walked toward her home after riding to McDonald’s to get something to eat. The fact that the food didn’t even have a bite taken from it implies that the young woman was brutally attacked by a man who allegedly loved her.
Statistics show that crimes against women are primarily done by acquaintances or people with which they are or have been involved in a relationship. An abusive relationship is sometimes difficult to escape and the situation is complicated moreso when mutual children are involved. The self-esteem of the victim of abuse has usually hit rock-bottom and the resignation that this is the best life will be overtakes the will to fight back. While victims often feign an undying love for their abusive companion, the reality is that they are terrified of what may unfold should they attempt to leave.
The cycle of domestic abuse has four stages: the buildup, the excelerator, the explosion, and the honeymoon phase. It is during the honeymoon phase the abuser apologizes, promises and offers sentiments of love to “make up” for the abuse. The reality is that the cycle is just that — a cycle, a never-ending circle that can only be stopped by breaking away from the circle.
The death of a young woman killed by her boyfriend during the month of October is sadly ironic. In the month where Domestic Violence Prevention and Awareness prevails, the death of Pamela Bobbitt is a stark reminder that domestic violence is a reality.