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upworthy

domestic violence

Megan Montgomery and Jason McIntosh on their wedding day

If you were to look at Megan Montgomery's Instagram account, you'd see a beautiful, smiling woman in the prime of her life, her youth and fitness the envy of women the world over. You'd even see some photos of her with her husband (#datenight), with comments saying things like "Aww, gorgeous couple!"

But beneath her picture-perfect feed was the story of a woman in an abusive relationship with her husband—one that would start with his arrest shortly after they got married, and end 10 months later with him shooting her to death in a parking lot.

In a Facebook post, one of the people who was out with Megan the night of her murder detailed how her estranged husband had come to their table, put his hand on her neck and shoulder, and escorted her out of the building.


She went with him willingly, but anyone familiar with abusive relationships knows that "willingly" is a subjective term. He had reportedly threatened mass violence before. Perhaps she was trying to protect the people she was with. Perhaps staying felt more dangerous to her than going with him.

The couple reportedly had a volatile relationship from the start, and at one point both had restraining orders against the other. Regardless, she was killed by the man who had claimed to love her, an ex-cop who had been arrested for domestic violence and had been bailed out multiple times prior to that evening.

Feminist News wrote the gist of Megan's story on Facebook, sharing photos from the couple's wedding to illustrate how invisible domestic violence can be to those outside of it. "THIS is the face of domestic violence," they wrote.

But what was perhaps most striking about the post was the deluge of comments from women describing their own experiences with domestic violence. Comment after comment explaining how a partner always made them think the abuse was their fault, how restraining orders were repeatedly violated, how they were charmed and loved into questioning whether the verbal abuse or physical violence was really that bad. Story after story of how they didn't see it coming, how slowly and insidiously it escalated, how terrifying it was to try to leave.

Those of us who have not been in abusive relationships don't always understand why people don't leave them. But the dynamics of abuse—the emotional manipulation, the gaslighting, the self-esteem destruction, the fear and shame—are well documented.

Unfortunately, those dynamics can prove deadly. Domestic violence murders have been on the rise in recent years, going up 19% between 2014 and 2017. And sadly, our justice system does not protect domestic violence survivors as well as it should.

Part of the challenge of prosecuting in domestic violence cases is that victims are not always willing to cooperate, either out of fear or shame or embarrassment, or unhealthy loyalty. According to some estimates, domestic violence victims recant their testimony up to 70% of the time. That's why some are pushing for evidence-based prosecution without requiring victim testimony, much like we try murder cases.

But some, like University of Maryland law professor Leah Goodmark, argue that pushing for more law enforcement hasn't proven to reduce domestic violence rates. Addressing issues of poverty, childhood trauma, attitudes toward gender equality, and other risk factors for domestic violence may be more effective by stopping violence before it starts.

While abuse happens to both men and women, women are more likely to be victims and much more likely to be murdered by a partner. Thankfully, there are many resources for domestic violence survivors to seek help, whether you're trying to determine if your relationship is abusive or trying to figure out if, when, and how to leave. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (www.thehotline.org or call 1−800−799−7233) has a wealth of information on domestic violence and what to do about it. The website even has a live chat where you can get your questions answered and receive assistance making a safety plan for you and your family.

If you are afraid of your partner or other loved one, there's something wrong. No one should live in fear of the people who are supposed to love them the most.


This article originally appeared on 12.16.19

Health

Boyfriend's reaction to Tubi Super Bowl ad sparks important domestic violence discussion

Her parents' response helps explain why many women have a hard time leaving abusive relationships.

Photo by Piotr Cichosz on Unsplash, Screenshot via Reddit/Usual-Umpire-4468

A Tubi ad during the Super Bowl had families wondering who was messing with the remote.

Millions of people across the U.S. freaked out in unison during Super Bowl LVII when a commercial for streaming service Tubi duped everyone into thinking somebody was fiddling with the TV remote. The first few seconds of the ad made it appear as if game coverage was resuming, then suddenly, a smart TV home screen appeared with a cursor clicking on different things, ultimately landing on Tubi.

The brilliant ad clearly got people's attention, as people flooded social media with stories of how everyone in their household asked who was sitting on the remote and disrupting the game. For most people, it was a hilarious prank that ended in shared laughter. But for some, it didn't turn out to be funny at all.

In a now-deleted post shared on Reddit, an unnamed 23-year-old woman described how her 25-year-old boyfriend reacted to the commercial when he thought she was messing with the TV. It's a story filled with domestic violence red flags, and people are sharing it as an example of what abusive relationships can look like in their early stages.


"My boyfriend thought I was the one changing the channel and began screaming at me violently, calling me things that I don’t even want to write down," the woman shared. "Even as I told him it was a commercial he ignored me and kept blowing up at me and punched a hole in our living room wall."

Red flags: Screaming obscenities and damaging property.

"He eventually realized what actually happened and awkwardly apologized but I was so disgusted over his reaction to a 15 second commercial," she continued. "I feel like if you can’t keep your anger in check and get that violent over something so small I don’t want to be around for it. We’d been together for over a year, living together for the past 2 months and I’ve known him to get angry at things sometimes but this really took me off guard and I can’t forget how unsafe I felt around him during this."

Red flag: Feeling unsafe with your partner.

She shared that she left the next morning with some of her things and is staying at her parents' house. "I left him a note telling him how I felt and that I didn’t think we were going to work out long term," she wrote. "He’s been messaging and calling me repeatedly. My parents told me that I’m overreacting since he had a bit to drink and the Super Bowl gets everyone riled up but I don’t feel I am. I don’t think it’s normal to be that angry."

Red flag: Parents excusing violent behavior and not supporting their daughter who feels unsafe.

People in the comments let the woman know that her instincts are spot on. It's not normal to get that angry, especially over a football game.

"Jfc, that ad is not even 10 seconds long. It only took him that much to insult you and punch a wall, ultimately destroying your mutual trust? Yikes, that's scary. You deserve much better than that, mad respect for standing your own ground," wrote Reddit user itsOkami.

“'When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.' - Maya Angelou. Believe him, he’s got an impressive collection of red flags," wrote Marlievey.

This astute comment from ohsheetitscici received more than 7,000 upvotes:

"Definitely not an overreaction at all! My partner and I watched the same commercial, and we thought one of us was sitting on the remote. When we finally realized it was a commercial, we laughed at how dumb we were and moved on.

"The fact that something that small triggered that intense of a reaction out of your (hopefully) ex is a red flag the size of f**king Texas. You did the right thing, and you are right to protect yourself if you feel unsafe. This is coming from someone who was in an abusive relationship before I met my husband. Trust and believe when I say, the abuse didn’t happen overnight. He, in a f**ked up way, did you a favor flipping out like that. Cause you just got a preview of what was to come later down the line."

Flowerino also hit the nail on the head:

"This is absolutely not overreacting. He was the one to overreact. Even if it hadn't been a commercial he'd still not have any valid reason for becoming so angry and ruining a wall. And if he's capable of destroying property over such a small thing as a commercial break, he is not safe to be around. Next time something he found inconvenient happens, it could've been you he'd hit.

"And your parents' comment about his actions being justified because he had a little to drink is disgusting to me. Alcohol should never be used to justify violence in any shape or form."

Others chimed in about how disturbing her parents' reaction was.

"Like 'Hey, Mom? He punched a hole in the drywall. He went from 0 to hole-in-the-wall in less than 15 seconds. Over something he thought I was doing. He wasn’t responding to the commercial, he was responding to me. I don’t care how many drinks he had; if it’s possible for him to become that enraged over thinking I was changing the channel during a commercial break then imagine if there’s ever a legitimate reason for him to be angry.'" – -janelleybeans-

"You ARE NOT overreacting! Your parents are UNDER REACTING! I don't care how 'exciting' a GAME is, nor how much alcohol was consumed. That doesn't excuse bad behavior. This would be a definite 'dealbreaker' for me." – Pyewacket62

Hopefully, this woman's story and the comments from people pointing out red flags will not only help her see that her instincts are right, but perhaps help others to recognize patterns of abusive behavior. As many people pointed out, domestic violence doesn't usually escalate to extremes immediately, and there are signs and signals that indicate abusive dynamics in a relationship that everyone should be aware of.

Good for this woman for recognizing that screaming and punching a hole in the wall over a Super Bowl ad is one of them.

If you are in or think you might be in an abusive relationship, get help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline by visiting hotline.org, or calling 1.800.799.SAFE (7233), or texting "START" to 88788.

Jeremy Floyd and the note written by his girlfriend.

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-799-7233.


A disturbing story that happened four years ago in DeLand, Florida, shows how brave workers at an animal hospital were able to free an abused woman from her deranged and violent abuser.

According to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Department, on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, Carolyn Reichle was beaten, held hostage and threatened at gunpoint by her boyfriend, Jeremy Floyd. During the incident, two rounds were fired, which passed through drywall and were later found in another room.

The next day, Thursday, May 24, Reichle spent in bed with a head injury.

That Friday, Reichle felt well enough to get out of bed and concocted a plan to get away from her abusive boyfriend. She convinced him that they should take their dog to the veterinarian’s office. She was worried that the dog’s ear had been grazed by a stray bullet but told the animal hospital that she thought it had an ear infection.


Floyd agreed to go to the veterinarian's office as long as he accompanied her.

“On the drive to the vet, Floyd reportedly again pointed the gun at Reichle, threatening to kill her and her family,” the Volusia County Sheriff’s Department wrote on Facebook.

At the hospital, Reichle was able to slip a handwritten note to Darla Fadden, who worked the front desk at the hospital. "Call the cops. My boyfriend is threatening me. He has a gun. Please don't let him know,” the note read.

"I wrote it on my hand. Just took off my bank note and wrote it and then, my handwriting isn't usually that sloppy," Reichle told Click Orlando. Fadden took the note seriously and sprung into action. "I read it and just went into the back and called 911," Fadden said.

After the deputies arrived at the animal hospital they quickly disarmed Floyd and he was arrested and taken to Volusia County Branch Jail. Floyd was charged with domestic violence, aggravated assault with a firearm, false imprisonment, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon and simple battery.

While in jail, Floyd called Reichle “dozens and dozens” of times, and a stalking charge was later added. "I understand you're upset with me. I'm sorry. I know you're upset with me and I apologize about what I did to you. I'll make it up to you. I apologize and I love you,” one of the voicemails said.

Reichle was taken to Florida Hospital DeLand where she was treated for her injuries, which included a head wound, a black eye and bruised arms.

This is a terrible story of abuse, but it could have been much worse. Reichle was incredibly brave to be able to write a note and get it to the animal hospital staff, especially being that Floyd was armed and in the other room. If he saw what she was doing, the situation could have quickly become very dangerous. The staff was also incredibly courageous because they put themselves in harm’s way by calling the police while in the presence of an armed man.

Luckily, no one was hurt and the arrest went peacefully.

Johnny Depp.

The world takes a collective breath as the dumpster fire that was the Depp v. Heard trial has come to an end. While some people had no interest in watching the trial, others set up tents in the camps of the actor they found most believable. One conversation emerging from the trial, no matter which side you’re on or how indifferent you feel about the verdict, is that men can be victims of domestic violence too.

If you’re a fan of "Law & Order SVU," you’ve heard of the perfect victim idea. It’s that if the victim isn’t absolutely and unequivocally perfect, they won’t be believed in court or in the public eye. There is some truth to that. Victims come in all shapes and sizes and from many different backgrounds, and the same is true regarding domestic violence victims. Women report being victims of domestic violence at a higher rate and are more likely to die at the hands of their perpetrator than anyone else, especially when they are leaving the relationship or pregnant.


Knowing that women are the most likely victims of domestic abuse doesn’t negate that men can also be abuse victims. For so many people, the perfect victim thought happens automatically—if the man claiming abuse isn’t small framed and timid, they have a hard time being believed. But abuse doesn’t usually start out as physical violence—abuse starts psychologically. The abuser typically starts by saying small things to slowly break a person’s spirit only to gaslight them into believing they’re overreacting. Before long, abusers tend to isolate you from your family and friends as they continue to slowly chip away at your self-confidence. Once they’re sure you aren’t leaving, that’s when the physical abuse starts and the cycle of abuse intensifies.

While for some people it may be difficult to imagine a woman being the abuser of a much larger man, it’s not unheard of. Men are victims of domestic violence and they don’t have to be smaller than their abuser for it to be true. Male victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) are much less likely to report their abuse to the authorities, which makes data a little scarce. But, according to the CDC, approximately 1 in 10 men in the United States experienced sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking. It reports that 97% of men that reported domestic violence only had female partners.

Photo by Salman Hossain Saif on Unsplash

The statistics are staggering, and the CDC is calling IPV against men a significant public health problem. Domestic violence is an issue that needs to be talked about, but we can’t let our bias allow us to jump to conclusions about who the victim is. All victims deserve to feel heard. They deserve to know that people are in their corner and will believe their story, even if the victim doesn’t fit into the image we’ve painted in our minds.

Believing men can be abused by their female partners does not mean that we have to stop believing female victims. Abusers do not care what anatomy you possess. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. Men, women and gender nonconforming people can all be victimized, and this trial has ignited a much-needed conversation on the topic.