Abuse victims experience trauma for years to come

By Gus Bode

Rashaud Media said he was 3 years old when he first witnessed abuse against a woman.

Media, a junior from Aurora studying criminal justice, said he was at a his cousin’s birthday party and saw his uncle abusing his aunt. At the age of seven, Media witnessed his aunt get slapped by her husband.Both situations caused him to look at women differently.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Media, president of Progressive Masculinities Mentors, said his experiences have influenced members of the organization to raise awareness on the issue. The group has had multiple forums during the month, and also throughout the year, on the types of abuse women are victims to such as sexual, physical and verbal abuse.


Women at the university and nationwide who are victims of domestic violence and abuse can face serious trauma if they do not receive help in time.

The effects of abuse toward a woman include her psychological, mental, emotional and physical state, said Anna Margrum, case manager of the Domestic Violence Program at the Women’s Center.

The Women’s Center defines domestic violence as any negative behavior causing fear, and intimidation used to gain power and control over a person with whom someone is on intimate terms. Forms of abuse are verbally attacking the victim in public or private, acting possessive, forcing the victim to have sex, insulting the victim or keeping the victim from working or becoming financially dependent.

“Women that suffer abuse tend to lose self-esteem and they tend to see themselves the way their abusers see them sometimes,” Margrum said. “Because they are so belittled and talked to in such horrible manners, mentally it can really take a toll because their worth gets damaged.”

Margrum said the physical damage can range from little to severe depending on the situation. There are instances where women have to be hospitalized for broken bones, broken jaws and bruises which she said is dangerous because it can ultimately lead to the death of the victim or the abuser.

“Sometimes women tolerate abuse to the point where they feel, next time, their life is at stake and they kill him (the abuser),” she said.

Media said he credits his mother for enforcing the importance of respecting women. He said a child who witnesses a male figure being overly aggressive gives the impression that it is okay for the abuse to happen.


“If no one is there to tell them it’s wrong, they may grow up and begin to do it in their relationship as well,” he said. “It starts a generational cycle.”

Natasha Smith, an undecided freshman from Chicago Heights, has experienced domestic violence since she was 8 years old. Smith said she was mentally and physically abused by her mother, raped by her mother’s boyfriend, screamed at and called different names.

“Basically it broke me down but at the same time it made me stronger because I actually stood up to it at certain times,” she said.

Smith said her experiences have made her realize she does not want to be abusive or negative towards anyone at any point in her life.

“If I were to put someone down everyday, it would remind me of how I felt in that situation,” she said.

Although it can be tough to watch a friend or loved one endure abuse, Margrum said the important thing to do is listen to them and avoid trying to give out advice.

“A lot of times what that will do is alienate the friend to the point where your communication is cut off,” she said. “You want to keep communication open and if possible, suggest giving them information regarding help services.”

Smith said while it might sound cliche, the best thing to do is get help as soon as possible.

“The first sign it may not be a big deal, but you still need to get help because those steps can get worse and they do get worse,” she said. “You must care about yourself enough to do that.”

Smith said raising awareness about domestic violence is important because it creates avenues for victims to receive help and hear stories that can encourage them to get help as well.

“I think it’s important to raise awareness because after I told my story, I actually felt better and felt there was someone there for me,” she said.” I feel me telling my story will help someone in the future.”