I remember taking forever once to pour a glass of ice tea, because being in the presence of one of my abusers had me moving like a sloth. I don't know what was said before I went to pour the tea, that information has been forgotten. But I do remember wondering what was wrong with me. Why was I moving so slowly? My subconscious already knew why, but my conscious mind was clueless.
I remember another time of staring at a bruise unable to remember how I got it. That was in the morning. It wasn't until that evening, when I suddenly knew where the bruise came from--my husband had squeezed that spot really hard just the day before. There is nothing wrong with my cognitive skills. The tremendously slow remembering rate was due to the power of my denial rather than the weakness of my mind.
Denial helps protect us from what we are afraid we cannot handle. And generally speaking, denial can melt away at the perfect time--when you are stronger or in a better place to process the facts of the abuse and your feelings about it.
But, if you know someone who is being abused physically by her or his partner and has been threatened by their partner with a weapon or has been delivered a murder threat, time has run out for your friend to move slow. It is time to do everything in your power to get this friend to understand that she/he is in real danger.
Try asking direct questions ("Do you really believe...), share your story of surviving abuse and your recovery journey, help your friend to depersonalize the situation by having her/him think about what he/she would say if you were the one in her/his situation.
Sharing these facts may help you to persuade your friend that the danger is real:
- In 2000, 1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims. [Callie Marie Rennison, U.S. Dep't of Just., NCJ 197838, Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief: Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, at 1 (2003), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/ipv01.pdf]
- Access to firearms yields a more than five-fold increase in risk of intimate partner homicide when considering other factors of abuse, according to a recent study, suggesting that abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners. [ Jacquelyn C. Campbell et al., Risk Factors For Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From A Multi-Site Case Control Study, 93 Am. J. of Public Health 1089, 1092 (2003), abstract available at http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstract/93/7/1089]
- Of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds were killed by their intimate partners. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate partner was more than three times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined in single victim/single offender incidents in 2002. [The Violence Pol'y Ctr., When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2002 Homicide Data: Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/Single Offender Incidents, at 7 (2004), available at http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2004.pdf]