“Many times it escalates, but you don’t pay attention because you are afraid, so, you don’t say anything,” said Tangela Chipman, 50, a domestic violence survivor. “They tend to use reverse psychology to make you feel as if you’re the problem.”
Chipman suffered for years at the hands of her children’s father, who at the time was her boyfriend. She said her warning signs were his issues of control.
“At the age of 17, I just felt that he loved me,” Chipman said.
Her boyfriend was four years her senior.
Tangela Chipman believes that domestic violence doesn’t always start with physical abuse. She feels that the warning signs are downplayed because of the victims’ feelings of love and or fear.
The month of October is recognized nationally as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is a time to honor those who have lost their lives to a loved one.
It is also a time to celebrate the lives of domestic violence survivors, those individuals who were able to change their circumstances for a positive outcome.
Despite the many success stories, there still remain an overwhelming number of victims who suffer at the hands of their spouses and partners.
The rising number of domestic violence cases has caused many to ask, “Is society desensitized to the issue of domestic violence?”
According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, there were 111,681 reported incidents of domestic violence in 2011– 192 women, men, and children brutally murdered.
Within that same year, emergency shelters were provided to about 15, 789 individuals. At least 40,007 women, children and men received outreach services, a 4.7 percent increase from the previous year.
Ghia Kelly, Community Education Program Director for the Refuge House, feels that people’s personal lives contribute to passive emotions surrounding the issue.
“Many individuals have not seen a good example of a healthy and positive relationship,” said Kelly. “What we’ve seen in our own personal lives adds to the problem.”
Kelly said the media plays a contributing factor. She feels the media, particular television and music, portray women in a negative light because women are degraded.
The Refuge House is a local domestic violence shelter for women and children. It also serves as a certified rape crisis center, providing services to men as well.
According to the Refuge House, women aging 18-24 have the highest reported cases of domestic violence in heterosexual relationships. Despite this, same-sex cases are on a steady climb as well.
However, women aging 18-44 is the highest affected demographic.
Ghia Kelly feels that in order to ensure people are not desensitized to the issue of domestic violence, people must hold everyone accountable.
“It’s up to us to tell young women that they are worth so much more,” Kelly said. “We have to tell our homeboys that they are so much better than their actions.
Chipman now serves as a Domestic Violence detective for the Miami-Dade County Special Victims Unit. She feels her own personal battle with the matter helps her to identify with those who go through similar situations. By recounting her own story, she hopes to bring awareness and advocacy to the issue of domestic violence.
“There is life after this,” she said. “Healing starts within.”