Every nine seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten, leaving relationship violence as the number one cause of injury to women above car accidents, rape and muggings. And yet despite these staggering numbers, victims of relationship abuse don’t often get help until it is too late and the violence has escalated out of control. And how can we break these cycles of abuse? Awareness, awareness, awareness.
The YouTube video “One Photo A Day In The Worst Year Of My Life” gives a realistic portrayal of how relationship violence can transform its victims’ lives. The video begins with photos of a confident, happy woman, but the photos quickly recede into black eyes, cut lips and welts. In the final frame, the girl — beaten to the point that she can only open one eye — holds up a sign that states, “Help me, I don’t know if I will survive until tomorrow.” Though all injuries were created with stage makeup, the video shows how quickly violence can escalate in a relationship. But if this relationship is so bad, why is she staying?
This question often elicits a complicated answer, and from our outsider point of view, it is easy to focus entirely on the victim. Why are YOU staying? Why don’t YOU stand up for yourself? Yes, people have the right intentions for wanting to help these abused women reclaim their lives, but blaming the victim can be more harmful than helpful. The victim has often been abused emotionally as well as physically and may lack the self esteem to leave the relationship. There are so many factors that influence their decisions to stay: their boyfriend threatens to kill himself if she leaves, the couple has a child together, the victim is financially dependent on her partner. The best thing anyone can do is to remain in contact with their friend and understand that leaving an abusive relationship can take years to accomplish. It is videos such as “One Photo A Day In The Worst Year Of My Life” that are creating conversations about relationship violence and educating the world on the long-term trauma it inflicts on it’s victims.
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