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Ask Alicia: An advice column by Alicia Lamb

Dear Readers,
There seems to be a common thread in my conversations with friends and my loyal readers this week. So rather than addressing one person or email in particular, I’d like to talk about the topic that has dominated my communications this week. Let’s talk about domestic violence.
Domestic violence can manifest in multiple ways – emotional or verbal abuse, physical abuse, controlling behavior by one partner or manipulation of your partner to name just a few. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, men and women alike. However, statistically more women are affected than men, so I’ll refer to victim as female for the purposes of this article. The important thing to know about Domestic Violence is that the abuser is the problem, not the victim. Unfortunately, a lot of victims don’t recognize the abuse until it escalates to violence.
How do you recognize an abuser? If you look closely at the signs, they aren’t hard to find. Does your partner try to control you or manipulate you to do what they want? Is your partner extremely jealous to the point of trying to cut everyone but him out of your life? Does your partner demean you or say hurtful things to you followed by an apology and a promise that it will never happen again? Has your partner ever gone through your phone or email, looking for proof you are cheating or trying to leave? Has your partner ever threatened to kill or harm you or himself if you try to leave? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you are likely in an abusive relationship. Your best option is to get out before it escalates from these to physical violence.
Here’s some startling statistics for you regarding domestic violence in West Virginia. One in three homicides in West Virginia are related to domestic violence. A call is placed to a West Virginia domestic violence hotline every nine minutes and in 2010, 12,661 domestic violence offenses were reported to law enforcement officials (Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, www.ncadv.org). Those numbers are staggering, but the sad truth is that probably half of the victims of domestic violence refuse to report or press charges again their abuser. There are resources available to help victims of abuse, but some are too afraid of their partner to make use of those resources.
No one should suffer from abuse of any kind. It starts as emotional abuse and drains your energy. Your self-confidence and feelings of self-worth begin to crumble. Next, you start to believe everything your abuser says and you believe you deserve that kind of treatment. Then the hitting begins. It may start as a simple shove then escalate to a slap to the face. Then you go to work trying to cover a black eye or a bruised face with makeup. This path can only end one way – being beaten so brutally that you end up in the hospital or in a coffin.
Dearest friends and readers, you have a choice! We were not put on this earth to be abused. We are all worthy of love and positive energy, but we have to make the choice to receive it. If you are in an abusive relationship, please seek help. Reach out to anyone you can or simply leave the situation. If you have to sneak out, then do it! Someone who loves you will not treat you like an object and hurt you. Here are some resources that you can use to help you escape abuse.
• Women’s Resource Center, Beckley, WV: 1-888-825-7836
• West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence: www.wvcadv.org
• National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
• Family Refuge Center Hotline: 304-645-6334
• Safehome Systems, Inc.: 540-965-3237
So for now dearest readers, I’ll leave you with this quote to ponder during the coming week. “A healthy relationship doesn’t drag you down. It inspires you to be better.” —Mandy Hale. Love yourself and don’t let anyone tell you that you are undeserving of love and kindness.
Bright Blessings, Peace and Happiness,
Alicia

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