Monday, June 24, 2019

The Runaway

When I was a news reporter, one of my favorite questions to ask people was, "How did you end up here?"
I ask this because "here" is not exactly on the beaten path. It's not a mega commerce center, and just the other day there was an article in the paper about how young people are moving away and officials are looking for ways to stop what they called the "brain drain." Lots of outdoor activities might be a major draw, and we do have some industry, but nothing exceptional, really.
So I always want to know how people come to be here. Many retire here - we do have an older population - because the cost of living is so different from other areas, particularly up north. Some people have left and returned. Some love the mountains, some love the beauty of the area, some like the people.
Recently when I asked that question, I received an answer I'd not heard before.
The woman said she was here because she had run away from a domestic violence situation, and this area was a place she thought no one would look.
She said this so matter-of-factly that I was somewhat taken aback. This would be a good place to hide out, if you think about it. People generally mind their own business even if we do have that small-town mentality where everyone knows your business anyway. Of course they really don't know your business, they just think they do. Gossip is always entertaining.
I was also struck by this woman's acceptance of her situation, the easy way it rolled off her tongue. "Domestic violence," kind of like I'd say, "pass the ketchup, please." It has been many years since she left her bad situation, and I presume her acceptance of it means she's put it in her past and intends to leave it there.
Good for her. Good for her for being able to talk about it. And good for this area, for being a haven for, well, anybody. I like the idea of my community as a sanctuary, a place for folks to come when times elsewhere are bad.
Domestic violence is not something we discuss much. I don't hear whispers of "so-and-so hits his wife" - we simply don't talk about it. I know it goes on, though. And I suspect we should be talking about it as bravely as the woman I recently met.
This following information is from the Virginia Department of Social Services. They have many other .pdfs and other information available about this topic at the link.
Domestic violence (also called family violence) is a pattern of behavior and a method of control. One person dominates other household members by physical violence and/or psychological abuse.
  • If you can answer "yes" to any of the questions below, you may be in an abusive relationship which would qualify as "Domestic Violence." Does your partner:
  • •Hit? Slap? Choke? Kick? Bite? Push? Use, or threaten to use, a weapon? Prevent you from leaving?
  • •Call you degrading names? Threaten to harm you or your family? Torture your pet? Destroy your property?
  • •Keep you from seeing your friends or family? Prohibit you from using a vehicle?
  • •Force you to engage in sexual acts against your will?
  • •Discourage or forbid you to work? Withhold the family's financial information from you?
  • •Control all the family finances and accounts?
  • •Fail to provide care or medical treatment that results in injury or damages your health and safety?
The National Domestic Violence hotline offers up these rather scary statistics:
  • On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.
  • Nearly 3 in 10 women (29%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner and report a related impact on their functioning.
  • Nearly, 15% of women (14.8%) and 4% of men have been injured as a result of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Just something to think about while you go through your day.


  1. Wow! A truly fascinating post. Those statistics are startling.

  2. Been going to the same laundry to get my shirts done every month for about ten years. Same woman. We'd chitchat while she was counting my shirts. Starch? On hangers? Folded?

    One of the pleasant people in my life.

    One day she had a black eye.

    She'd been in a traffic accident.

    Uh huh uh huh uh huh.

    I told her she could stay at my house for a few days. She declined.

    Why was she... I mean what emotional bonds ...

    I don't know.

    Thank you for your post.

  3. As a child who was part of domestic violence and is now paying an extremely high price because of both family issues and issues personally ; I can say you never get rid of the abuse. It haunts you no matter where you move to. Certain behaviors of others trigger memories you wish you could forget... and sometimes create more reasons to be scared. I’ve been an open book with most of the abuse but some things i’ve kept locked away out of fear, fear of never having the life I dream of instead of the nightmare I lived in.


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