As we grow up, mature, and begin navigating our way through the treacherous waters of life, we are often introduced to some unsettling topics. Cancer, climate change, and world hunger are only a few examples of the multiple problems that plague the world. We often learn about these issues as bright-eyed high school students. At this stage in life, we often write off these issues as meaningless and unimportant because we believe that there is absolutely nothing that we as individuals can do about it. I was just like this in high school. I believed that there was no way I could make a difference in a world filled with so many opinions and beliefs until I came to college, and there I met my match with domestic violence.

Domestic violence is the violent or aggressive behavior within a household, which typically involves the abuse of a spouse or partner. In order to truly understand the severity of domestic violence, here are a few facts provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Every minute, 20 people are physically abused by their partner. In their lifetime, 1 in 3 women will be victims of some form of physical violence by their partner. Women between the ages of 18-24 are the most common targets for domestic violence.

As a high schooler, I had a general understanding of domestic violence. I knew what it was, and I knew the devastation it could cause. However, like everyone else around me, I wrote it off. I figured there was nothing I could do to prevent it, and it didn’t seem like any of my business. I found all of these assumptions to be false when I joined Alpha Chi Omega Sorority at Baylor University. Domestic violence is the philanthropy for all Alpha Chi Omega Chapters, so it holds a very special place in our hearts.

Through the involvement in our philanthropy, I have discovered that domestic violence, while still defined as a major world issue, is completely different from the world issues listed above. Domestic violence is different in the sense that it occurs all around us. It occurs in your state, in your city, in your neighborhood, and possibly in your own home. You cannot ignore domestic violence because everyday it affects someone you know personally or a stranger who you encounter on the street. Either way, the evils of domestic violence lie way too close for comfort, and it is our responsibility to stop it.

The first step in preventing domestic violence is recognizing its forms. Domestic violence in its most noticeable form is physical abuse. However, a more silent yet equally powerful form of domestic violence takes the shape of verbal abuse. Verbal abuse is much more difficult to recognize because the bruises it leaves are invisible. The scars from this type of abuse form on the heart rather than the body. Verbal abuse is silent but just as deadly as physical abuse.

So many women out there encounter both physical and verbal abuse everyday, yet they do not escape from their situations. Why? This is the way most of the world views domestic violence. Society questions why a woman would continually put herself through such torture. We never once question why such cruelty is administered to an innocent human being. Beverly Gooden, an award-winning speaker and domestic violence survivor, has devoted her career to emphasizing the dangers of domestic violence. Beverly explains from her own personal experiences that many women cannot leave their situations due to financial dependency on their spouse, the shame of divorce, or the genuine fear toward their significant other. Instead of facing these uncertainties, they choose to stay and dance with the chance of death every single day.

In order to highlight the reasons many victims of domestic violence remain in their situations, Beverly created the social media hashtag #WhyIStayed. A quick Twitter search of this hashtag unlocks a world of genuine stories from real women who are living with the chains and shackles of domestic violence. These women should not have to go through this alone, and that is where we come in.

Domestic violence is not a disease. It has no cure. There is no definite solution to the issue. However, we must be on guard for any sign of struggle or hardship. When we encounter these warnings, we must be willing to act on them. We can no longer assume that domestic violence is none of our business because it is. These women are unable to help themselves, so we must be brave enough to help them. By finding the courage to save these women from their personal prisons, we are beginning to foster a world that is filled with real strong women and that lacks in the horrors of domestic violence and thrives in the hope of a better and brighter tomorrow.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the effects of domestic violence, please don’t hesitate to call the The National Domestic Violence Hotline or your local police station.

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