One eye on the road, one in the mirror – a balancing act to hide the truth?

Real Help for Real Living

I don’t know how you ladies do it … one eye in the rearview mirror, the other looking down the road.

The fact is, when women put on makeup while driving, they’re more likely to get into accidents. It’s amazing you don’t poke your eye out.

It’s important to look our best. But when we’re more interested in presenting the image we want people to see rather than the truth of what’s really going on in our life, that life becomes an illusion rather than the real deal.

One area we don’t discuss when it comes to “image management” is domestic violence. Often when we think of domestic violence, we think of the poor. Yet recently, I came across the book “Not to People Like Us – Hidden Abuse in Upscale Neighborhoods.” The author tells how women choose to stay in abusive marriages because they don’t want to give up their lifestyle. Others stay because they are afraid their husband is so well connected authorities would never believe the wife.

A man will get violent and tear up the house while his wife and children hide in a closet, fearing for their lives. So often the wife will cower in fear, not knowing what to do to end the violence. If she was a better wife, better mother, better lover … perhaps if she was thinner or more beautiful, her husband wouldn’t act this way. She plots and schemes, and the marriage becomes a dance. He hits her, and she makes excuses for him. She wears sunglasses or says she walked into a door – only it’s the third door she’s walked into this month.

The challenge becomes what to do next. Does she have to leave her home quickly because her spouse or partner was abusing her?  Does she feel the need to cover up the black before she gets to work or attends the church committee meeting?  How often has she had to flee and cover up the wounds of abuse so their shame can be hidden and no one will know what is really happening in her home. A place that should be a safe haven becomes the site of domestic terrorism.

Often, she stays because she is afraid to leave – and with good reason. When a victim of domestic violence attempts to flee her abuser, her chances of being killed by him increases. If she is isolated from family and friends – often a tactic of the abuser – she has little to no resources for food, shelter, clothing and finances. And if she has children, how will she provide for them?

Most men who abuse their partner do not demonstrate these abusive behaviors at work, church or other public environments. They abuse in the privacy of their homes. They present to the public a very different face, sometimes so different that when the victim chooses to disclose, people don’t believe her. So sometimes, the victim just thinks she’s safer putting on her makeup and pretending she is not dying inside or living in terror in her home.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I invite you to become an educated advocate for victims of domestic abuse by going to these websites:

•http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/CommunitySupportServices/-Documents/FY10LawEnforcement.pdf and

•http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/CommunitySupportServices/WomensCommission/AboutUs/Outreach/Events/Pages/DVAwarenessMonth.aspx.

Maybe one day, victims won’t feel like they need to cover their wounds with makeup.

Special thanks to author Catherine DeLoach Lewis, owner of Christian Therapy Services, for her contribution to this column.

I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well my friends.

Rev. Tony Marciano is executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission and a columnist for South Charlotte Weekly. The mission provides a free, long-term Christian recovery program for men and women who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.

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