BLOG: It's OK to speak up
It's not always going to be a bruise or a cut on her arm that makes it apparent.
It's not always going to be the black eye that he hides with sunglasses while you're out.
It's the way she glances at her significant other with a bit of fear in her eyes when certain subjects come up because this topic could come back up later at home and lead to a conversation of them accusing her of something she clearly didn't do.
It's the way he texts saying, "Oh, I'm busy again. The lady needs me to stay home and do (insert task here.)" for the 14th time, and you realize you haven't seen him in person for a few weeks.
It's the way she makes excuses for him constantly texting her, wanting to know exactly who she's out with and what they're doing together.
Abuse comes in many forms, and not every one of those is going to be visible. According to LoveisRespect.org, a non-profit organization aimed to educate and help people get out of abusive relationships, there are six kinds of abuse. I want to talk about three types.
Physical abuse can be seen easily. It's punching, pulling hair, biting or grabbing your face to make you look at them. It can leave bruises or scratches or marks that may or may not be covered up. These are the things people can easily spot and be warning signs for others to hear or see.
Just last night, I had to call the police on my neighbors because I heard this kind of abuse going on. Someone was throwing the other person into a wall, shoving them down on the floor, slamming doors and screaming.
Emotional or verbal abuse is calling someone a name, intentionally embarrassing them in public or threatening to kill themselves when you try to leave. This one is harder to see, but if you look for the subtle signs, the posture changes, the composure of the person or a change in their behavior when they're around their significant other, you may be able to help.
This is a type of abuse that's romanticized. This is the type of abuse that allowed Mark Short to manipulate his wife, Megan Short, into staying for as long as she did. This type of abuse can escalate to physical violence, and Megan Short, her three beautiful children and her dog all were victims of this.
Sexual abuse is any kind of action that pressures someone into doing something they don't want to do sexually. This can be unwanted kissing or touching, refusing to use a condom when your partner does or rape.
A lot of people dismiss this kind of abuse in relationships, especially rape and sexual assault, because they don't think their boyfriend or girlfriend can do that just because they're in a relationship. That's not the case. Consent is an ongoing process, and if you don't want a person touching you, say no. Even if you've said yes in the past, the other person has to respect that.
We need to start the conversation about abuse, and realize abuse is a spectrum. If you or someone you know needs help, it's OK to reach out. It's OK to ask for help.
Contact someone. Whether it's the police, a friend or the YWCA, there are people who care and want to get you the help you deserve. The YWCA offers comprehensive victim services, including counseling, a safe house and a 24/7 confidential hotline at 1-800-262-8444. For a full list of services, check online.
— Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDKatherine