When love turns violent, where do I turn?

Love may be blind, but it is time to open our eyes to domestic violence.

Paige Vigil

Instinct âÄî we all have it, but we donâÄôt all use it. It is common knowledge that lying, cheating, stealing and murder are wrong, but sadly, these things are still common in our society. One sin that is seemingly increasing in popularity is domestic violence. It is often psychologically easier for abused women to downplay the severity of their situation, but as Ricky Fitts explains in American Beauty, âÄúnever underestimate the power of denial.âÄù Domestic violence is not only physical abuse between partners. Abuse also comes in the form of verbal threats, stalking, taking money or property or one partner verbally making the other feel insignificant. William Shakespeare once said, âÄúLove looks not with the eyes but with the mind and therefore is winged cupid, painted blind.âÄù Shakespeare was right; love truly is blind. If you think you may be a victim of domestic abuse, it is best to take yourself out of the relationship or at the least look at the situation from an unbiased perspective; only then can you see the truth. Sadly, the belief that one is immune to domestic violence is not enough to shelter one from the harsh reality. The fact of the matter is, 600,000 to 1 million women are victims of domestic violence each year, and one out of four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, according to the Domestic Violence Research Center. One of those women who fell victim to domestic violence is the well-known pop icon Rihanna. Rihanna has released many hit singles in the past few years, including âÄúUmbrellaâÄù and âÄúDisturbia.âÄù Her boyfriend at the time, Chris Brown, was equally famous. They both achieved an unthinkable level of success in their early teens and were in love for two years before he horrifically beat her. After the incident, he was coined by the media as âÄúChris Beat-Her-Down.âÄù Last Friday, a 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer, Rihanna spoke for the first time about the incident, nearly nine months after the fact. Rihanna agrees that love can be blinding and that even though her bruises will heal, internal scars will stick with her. Her story was particularly touching for me to hear as a fellow victim of domestic violence. Each demeaning word and push I experienced then makes me a stronger woman now. Rihanna also exhibits her strength by being able to talk to the entire world about her incident. While she admitted to being ashamed after the confrontation, she has become a role model by being so open about what happened to her. While she did have a brief period of doubt and went back to Chris, she eventually left, just as any woman in her situation should. Rihanna leaving wasnâÄôt the only thing Chris had to face. He was sentenced to 180 days of labor in Virginia, five years of probation, mandatory attendance to a domestic abuse program for a year and was ordered to stay away from Rihanna during probation. He may have dodged five years in prison. It does not matter how your loved one hurts you, whether it is with his hands or with his words, no one deserves to be treated like they are not worthy. It is a tough lesson to learn and, sadly, one that some of us have to learn the hard way, but there is always hope. The focus on the topic of domestic violence is usually women, because women are the primary sufferers experiencing domestic violence. In a study done but the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, 88 percent of the people served by the center for domestic abuse were women, while only 12 percent were men; also, 69 percent of the abusers were men. Luckily for me and my University peers, the Aurora Center is easily accessible to us on campus through Boynton Health Service. Fortunately, the Aurora Center has been able to assist over 300 people each year who have suffered from domestic abuse. The center provides free and confidential counseling and crisis intervention to victims of domestic violence. The Aurora Center also provides counseling for concerned friends and family who are trying to come to terms with the abuse. If you are a victim of domestic violence, the Aurora Center does accept walk-ins, and their 24-hour help line is accessible every day of the year at 612-626-9111. Minneapolis has other resources as well. October was National Domestic Violence Awareness month, and in honor of that, the city of Minneapolis received a grant under the federal Violence Against Women Act. The grant totaled nearly $1 million and will be used toward keeping women safe and holding the abusers more accountable for their crimes. Mayor R.T. Rybak is excited to see what this money can do for helping to prevent domestic violence. He was quoted saying, âÄúFighting domestic violence is a priority for the city of Minneapolis. This funding will help us do even more to combat this devastating crime and find creative ways to stop the cycle of violence that fuels it.âÄù While the conviction rate regarding domestic violence has increased in Minnesota by 30 percent since 2005, I am sure this grant will help put even more abusers behind bars, where they belong. Domestic violence is a tricky subject. The fact that love is blind sends many women back into the arms of their abusers after they have already been beaten. With the help of role models like Rihanna and the resources of Minneapolis and the Aurora Center, we should be able to significantly decrease the number of incidents. If you are a victim of domestic violence, open your eyes; you have the power to help yourself by letting the many resources available help you. Paige Vigil welcomes comments at [email protected]