Hashtag giving a voice to an often silent fight

#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou.  The hashtag that is spurring a public conversation that is often held in private, if at all, since domestic abuse victims may not recognize signs.  Farah VanGendern, who is a social worker and lead therapist at the Life Crisis Center in Salisbury, tells 47ABC “they’re not even aware that they’re in that situation” she says, speaking of the victims she interacts with, “which we kind of see a lot of times it’s over your head, and all of a sudden you’re trying to figure out how to get out when its really bad.” 

The hashtag gives many examples of emotional abuse, but all represents one message.  A message that VanGendern says they hear all too often ” that’s what we hear a lot” she says, adding the victim often rationalizes “well he didn’t hit me, so maybe it wasn’t abuse.”

The hashtag is reminiscent of the “Black Dot Campaign” from last fall.  Victims put black dots on their hands as a silent but visible cry for help.  That campaign backfired when abusers found out what the dots meant.  With the #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou campaign, since victims can’t necessarily control what friends share or retweet, it’s a passive way to bring signs of abuse to light.

Michele Hughes, who is the Executive Director at Life Crisis Center  says it’s important to have the social aspect when recognizing the signs of emotional abuse.  “This is their peers, saying “this is what’s happening to me” and “this is what did happen to me”  and just to be able to recognize that, they’re not alone first of all – that is so important, that they’re not alone.” she tells 47ABC. 

With social media, younger people are more likely to see this message, and VanGendern says this is a huge victory in the fight against domestic abuse, because early intervention is key.  She says “being able to recognize early the signs is so much easier than when you’re all entangled and you’re married and you have a house together and a car together and children together, and then you’re kind of feeling stuck.”

Early intervention is so important because domestic abuse can snowball out of control according to Hughes, who says ” when it starts like this ” speaking about emotinal abuse, she continues  “chances are, it’s going to end with violence”.

Both Hughes and VanGendern stress that although the hashtag says “He” that domestic abuse, whether physical or emotional, can happen to both men and women.  The most inportant thing they tell 47ABC, is to take the first step, and seek help.

Categories: Delaware, Local News, Maryland, Virginia