March brings domestic violence to light

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Early Friday morning, more than 100 people marched down Main Street in El Cajon to the Prescott Promenade bringing awareness to the community that domestic violence is something that needs addressing. At the end of the march were silent shadows of nine names, all victims of intimate partner homicide killed by the hands of a loved one.

Because of its extremely private nature, many people avoid the subject, even when it is happening before their eyes.

Early Friday morning, more than 100 people marched down Main Street in El Cajon to the Prescott Promenade bringing awareness to the community that domestic violence is something that needs addressing. At the end of the march were silent shadows of nine names, all victims of intimate partner homicide killed by the hands of a loved one.

Because of its extremely private nature, many people avoid the subject, even when it is happening before their eyes.

Domestic violence comes in many forms from physical abuse, emotional traps, continuous humiliation and beating down a person’s self worth, and in many cases isolation from friends and family. And the number of DV victims is growing each year. In 2013, 16,689 DV incidents reported to law enforcement raised the number by two percent from 2012. El Cajon had a 34 percent increase in 2013.

One DV incident is one too many and these numbers show the devastating lives that people are living with every morning when they open their eyes.

I had the unique opportunity to speak with one DV victim that is no longer afraid and escaped the bondage of an abusive relationship. Emily Schaedler, from El Cajon, a twice DV victim is now a community support partner that works with children and parents within the Child Welfare system, many of which are DV victims. She said she helps to point them to available resources, put most important, “to be that voice” for them. Letting them know that they can get out of a horrible situation and that you can be strong. Then in return, help others in the same situations.

Schaedler’s honesty and straight forwardness were moving. Before me stood an empowered woman with purpose in life, not a victim. If she had not told me of her past, I would have never guessed. In many cases though, this is also a truth in the daily lives of DV victims, you would never guess that they lived a life full of abuse and fear.

I have seen domestic violence up close and it is an ugly beast. There are those that hide it so well, that in many cases, even the closest to them do not know the truth—and entirely too often, until it is too late.

I asked Schaedler what you say to victims so that they comprehend that they do not have to live this way. She pointed out the many fears that can hold back a person from leaving an abusive environment. Fear of being alone, as many are already isolated from family and friends, a fear of endangering children, and the fear of your own life make it seem impossible for a victim to overcome. She said it important for others to understand that just because a DV victim goes back into a bad situation it does not mean that they do it because they want to. Fear of one’s own life or the life of a loved one, steer them back.

Schaedler gave me hope that morning. Even the insurmountable is achievable, but as in many things in life, it is coming to the determination that you do not have to live this way any longer. You can leave and there will be people there to help you. As hard as it is to do, you have to get out of the situation before you can address it. Embed in hope that as a victim, you are not alone. There are many of you out there, and together, along with new friends and reunited families you have the power to be one less victim.

Then you can move on with life with the empowerment I saw in Schaedler’s voice, actions, eyes and beautiful smile.

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