The most expensive and shame-filled secret many of us will ever keep. It's time to tell the truth.

Men. Women. Children. Domestic violence can happen to anybody. The costs, both personally AND to society at large, are too much. Scroll the infographics and stay 'til the end to see the surprising answers to two of the most-asked questions abuse survivors hear.

What even is domestic violence?

Many times, victims are reluctant to acknowledge that what they experience is abuse. Abusers can be very adept at making their partner feel like they are equally (or totally) at fault.


Who does domestic violence happen to? Pretty much just women, right? WRONG.

Men are not immune from rape, stalking, and domestic violence AT ALL.

Also, look at the age for women most at risk. This tells us we need to do a better job arming our children with the facts they need about what abuse is and how to recognize early signs. A lot of people go into relationships with the proverbial rose-colored glasses. By the time they realize anything is amiss, their lives can be dauntingly entangled with their abuser's.

What happens when a child is raised in an abusive environment?

Lastly, you simply won't believe how we as a society pay for this widespread affliction we're not talking about.

If you don't believe these numbers, we invite you to explore the sources listed just above.

And finally, if you're asking yourself, "Why does anyone stay with an abuser?" or "Why don't they just leave?" here are the honest answers you probably wouldn't expect.

From Leslie Morgan Steiner:

"Why did I stay? The answer is easy. I didn't KNOW he was abusing me. Even though he held those loaded guns to my head, pushed me down stairs, threatened to kill our dog, pulled the key out of the car ignition as I drove down the highway, poured coffee grounds on my head as I dressed for a job interview … I never once thought of myself as a battered wife. Instead, I was a very strong woman in love with a deeply troubled man, and I was the only person on earth who could help Connor face his demons."

"Why didn't I walk out? I could have left any time. To me this is the saddest and most painful question that people ask because we victims know something you usually don't. It's INCREDIBLY dangerous to leave an abuser because the final step in the domestic violence pattern is 'kill her.' Over 70% of domestic violence murders happen after the victim has ended the relationship, after she's gotten out. Because then the abuser has nothing left to lose. Other outcomes often include long-term stalking (even after the abuser remarries), denial of financial resources, and manipulation of the family court system to terrify the victim and her children who are regularly forced by family court judges to spend unsupervised time with the man who beat their mother. And still we ask, 'Why doesn't she just leave?'"

You can take a stand right now. Share this to help educate your friends, and consider volunteering at a local shelter or a hotline. Because domestic violence is happening all around us and victims are often too ashamed or scared to speak up. Inviting people to open up can do a world of good.

Tell your friends list: "If you're struggling with domestic violence, I'm a safe person you can tell." And if someone comes to you, help them find professionals who can advise them on next steps.

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