Blood Isn't Thicker Than Water

     Who is family? Is it your brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, partners? Is it the similar blood that runs through their veins or the vows they took? Family is an intricate concept of blood and vows, is it not? I’d say it is complicated. As much as people will tell you it is, love is not unconditional. Love does not manifest out of thin air. This article is not to tell anyone that their parents don’t love them. This article is to tell victims of domestic violence and child abuse that it’s not your fault.  A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds in the U.S and every minute twenty people are physically abused by an intimate partner. Most of those people will not leave.

     Is it because of the lackluster work of Child Protective Services and the lack of protection for Domestic Abuse victims? Sure. But, it’s also more than that. There is Emotional Abuse where the abuser will manipulate the emotions of the victim. For example, if a parent hits you or takes out their anger on a child and then proceeds to claim love and parental affection in order to get the child to comfort them or do favors. Similarly, if a partner beats or cheats on someone and then claims to love them or threatens self-harm to make them stay. Anyone can emotionally abuse someone whether it’s a mother, father, aunt, uncle or cousin, boyfriend, girlfriend or friend. If someone convinces another person it’s not their fault that they hurt them or that they deserved that pain, then that’s emotional abuse.

     Most people know that it is never okay to put your hands on another person unless you are defending yourself. No one deserves to get beat. If anyone does anything to cause physical harm to someone, then they assaulted them and that is abuse. That can be anything for that one time someone’s uncle used someone like a punching bag to a parent attempting to humiliate a child by cutting of their hair without consent. Even if it’s just bending one’s  fingers back in a punishment, any malicious and deliberate physical harm is not okay. And, even if someone is your mother or father, or uncle, or boyfriend, or best friend that does not mean you can not call the police or protect yourself from danger.

     Physical attacks are not limited to hitting or beating it can also be sexual. The most common perpetrator of sexual abuse is a family member or family friend. If anyone is touching you inappropriately, making lewd comments or raping you, I want you to know that you don’t have to be afraid to ask for help. If your friend is harassing you about sexual favors and you are uncomfortable, then it’s not “just a joke.” Your harassment is not invalid. If someone has groped and molested you, then it’s not “just a game.” Your body is not a toy that people can use as they please. And if someone has violated you, please get help. You don’t have to protect your father, uncle,  family friend, or partner. Being in a relationship doesn’t change the value of your “no.”

     These are all things google could have told you, for sure. But, how many abused people would have gone looking? Family codes have long held this idea of  “keep it in the family,” especially in families of color. Just because someone has been a permanent fixture in your life doesn’t mean they love you and it doesn’t mean they’re family. Someone who loves you- someone who is family- will not abuse you. Whatever family means to you, whatever it is, it should love you and treat you with the respect and dignity you deserve.