by Heather
CCADV Blogger

Freedom. A word that means so much to our country. Our military fights for it every day for our sake. We stand proud that we live here. Yes, it is the land of the free, yet, if you look closely, many people don’t have it. Some of you might be saying, “Yeah right! We live in America!” Victims of domestic violence don’t have any freedom. They are being watched all of the time. They can’t leave their own house, lost their job because of the abuse, and financial reasons may be holding them back. They have been isolated; lost family and friendships with nowhere to turn. Safe houses are full. They can’t call or text anyone without their phone being looked through. They may be forced to use speaker phone so the abuser can hear what the other person is talking about. Some ‘Get-Help-Abuse’ websites have a big button at the top that the victim can push to close the browser quickly in case their abuser comes in the room while they research the internet. There is absolutely no freedom in these relationships. There might be a feeling of it during the “honeymoon” phase but it quickly fades and there is a realization that is numbing – feelings of being stuck.

Victims may not even realize at the time that their freedom is getting dimmer and dimmer, and eventually there is none. It’s an extremely scary time when this happens.

Speaking from experience, I was always watched and interrogated. I could barely go anywhere without him, even the store. If I didn’t answer my phone or call back in his time frame, he assumed I was talking to another man or doing something wrong and another heated argument came about. I was scared to see him again, not sure what he would say or do. I had a job, but I didn’t make much. He was probably fine with me working. For me, I had that small amount of freedom of working. For him, it was manipulation and control: “borrowing” my money sometimes and never paying me back. I was stuck.

The smallest things other people might not think of: I couldn’t go to the bathroom at someone’s house without him checking to see if I locked the door. One time I didn’t and he came unglued. He hit me for it; thinking I wanted one of his friends to come in and see me naked! That was not true at all, but he believed it.

Lack of freedom is doing nothing right. It could be a lack of physical things that make it impossible to move on, but there is more: it’s emotional as well. There is manipulation, control, unkind words, and eventually you start to believe you can’t do anything without that person because you are “worthless.”

I got out of all of that. Yes, it took a while and no one understood why I stayed. That’s okay; I had to worry about myself at that point and not other people’s judgments. I am now happily married. I have freedom I never thought I would and it’s a feeling you don’t know you have until it’s completely gone. There are many other freedoms that can be lost; I only touched on the surface. Other countries can be worse with laws not helping women and such. If you are in a situation like this, just know there is hope and you can get out. Or if you know someone, it’s not their fault. They may have lost everything they have. Listen to them if they want to talk in private. Enjoy your freedom and look around at what you have! You may know someone who doesn’t have all of that. Be thankful that you are blessed with freedom, because it can be quickly lost.