October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Shannon M. Deitz, author, speaker, and founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry offers hope to survivors. One in every four women is beaten or raped by a partner during adulthood. One in every four girls and nearly one in every six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Until recent years, these widespread problems were rarely made public.
Through the I Have a Voice video project, Dietz encourages survivors to give voice to their pasts. This crucial project consists of ten intensely moving videos, all with a collective purpose to help survivors recognize the abuse they have suffered and expose the truth. Through this they understand they are not alone and that abuse does not define them. The survivor can overcome being a victim and realize the full potential of their lives moving forward. In the most recent video, Victoria shares her difficult story: “I was told all my life that I didn’t matter, I heard it so much that is all I knew and I believed it. I believed I was worthless. But I know better now. I know God loves me and has a future for me.”
Through an online survey Deitz conducted new data and revealed interesting information regarding domestic abuse survivors. 98% of survivors polled indicated that they had suffered abuse by a family member during childhood. Deitz comments, “I found that women who have suffered through domestic violence in past relationships have lost nearly all sense of identity and the natural boundaries that come with simple dignity and self-respect. They suffered mental and psychological abuse before the abuse ever turned physical.”
Many survivors of domestic violence also suffered some form of mental and emotional abuse or neglect during their childhood. With this in mind Hopeful Hearts has added a support group program on the topic of boundaries as well as a self-defense course that includes a focus on inner strength and self-worth.
Deitz recently shared her story with a group of incarcerated women. “The universal language of those who have suffered abuse enables Shannon Deitz to speak to their hearts. This was amazingly demonstrated during her recent speaking engagement at the Carol Young Unit of Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Female inmates are the epitome of women who have been the victims of every imaginable abuse for the majority of their lives. Shannon quickly connected with them in a way no one ever has,” comments Deacon Sid Cammeresi.
Raising public awareness of the prevalence and the insidious nature of abuse is vital. People may not realize that domestic violence rarely begins with actual violence. More often, it starts with emotional and verbal abuse. This erodes their self-confidence and self-worth and causes the victim to question their instincts. Ultimately, this dominance can turn to violence when the victim begins to show signs of defiance. “Most domestic violence fatalities occur when the victim has left the abuser,” comments Deitz.
Abuse changes things forever, but healing is possible if the choice is made to overcome the victim mentality and work hard to become a survivor.
For more information please visit www.HopefulHeartsMinistry.com.
Copyright 2017 Shannon Deitz
About the author: Shannon M. Deitz was three when the abuse began by a family member. At 17 she was raped and as a freshman in college, she was raped a second time. At the age of 27, with no place to turn, she found God, surrounding her with His peace. It was the beginning of a love story that continues to unfold day by day.
Hopeful Hearts Ministry is a non-profit organization founded by Shannon which supports long-term recovery of survivors of all forms of abuse through peer support, counseling and public awareness services.