Saturday, October 1, 2016

Stephanie Littlewood of Leeds, England experienced a real-life nightmare within her own four walls that too many women and men can relate to: she was the victim of domestic violence. In April of this year, the young mother was so badly beaten by her then boyfriend that she ended up in the hospital.
"He was in a foul mood with me all night and wanted sex with me but because I turned him down he turned angry and aggressive," recalled the Englishwoman. He threw her on the floor and started choking her. He then hit her 40 to 50 times, slamming his fist in her face again and again until she lost consciousness. 
In the hospital, it became apparent that she had lost three teeth and had a broken jaw. Her injuries and broken bones weren't going to heal quickly, not to mention the psychological suffering that she had endured. Stephanie decided to press charges. After several months of waiting for trial, this week the verdict came down against her violent ex: he was sentenced to 16 months in prison. This led Stephanie to decide that she was done with hiding. And so she posted these graphic photos on Facebook.
“At first I didn’t want to go out—I had so much anxiety, it knocked my confidence loads," Stephanie said. "But people kept telling me I couldn’t hide away and it wasn’t my fault and I started to realise that they were right. He should be the one that’s ashamed—not me. I don’t have anything to be ashamed of. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned and want to tell other people who are going through this—keeping it in doesn’t help, it’s better to speak out about it. It has helped me so much to come out and talk about what he did to me—the amount of support I have received has been overwhelming." 
In the United States, 85% of domestic violence victims are women, with one in four women experiencing abuse at the hands of a partner in her lifetime. The global figure is even more appalling: one in three women worldwide has been or will be either beaten, raped or otherwise abused by the time she reaches the end of her life. It's even possible, if not likely, that this daunting statistic is even higher because most attacks are unreported.
That why it's especially courageous when someone like Stephanie not only brings her abuser to justice, but also lifts the veil that so often hides domestic violence. Perhaps by speaking out, Stephanie will encourage other victims to break their silence and seek help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) if you or someone you know is in a dangerous situation.
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