They are your best friend and someone you trust with your whole heart. You can tell them everything about you before you sleep, and it is routine to be getting breakfast together the next morning. The laughter, moments of being your complete ridiculous self, and memories of building each other up to make one another feel special are never erased during the dark, scary moments when there’s shouting, tears, and things being thrown across the room. It is easy to take a walk around the block for ten minutes to “cool off,” and reconvene looking into their eyes seeing the same person reciting the words, “I am sorry, I care about you so much.”

Before you know it, the word “sorry” sounds like a broken record, and you just grow more fearful of the chairs denting the walls more, or when will be the time their swing actually comes to hit your face. You don’t only start to not recognize them, but yourself when you look in the mirror. The drive to the store is painful as the pressure on your chest could burst any moment. The dark clouds cover the sunlight that gives you hope as you walk in seeking the darker foundation to cover the puffiness of your eyes, and what you convince yourself isn’t a bruise, seems impossible to find. “WHERE ARE YOU?! GET HOME NOW!” are the screams coming out the end of your cell phone, and you shake your head thinking you could even escape for one hour.

As you arrive home you sense the sweet smell of fresh vegetables, garlic, and other spices making you wonder what you did to deserve a great home-cooked meal. They smile at you, making you feel like you are the most attractive person in the world. They gently slide towards you, pull you in for what is a long, passionate, and magical kiss whispering, “I missed you” coldly in your ear. You look towards the warm dinner waiting for two on the table and start to pivot your way to the chair. “Wait,” they say assertively. “Is that all I get for giving you this nice surprise?” Trying to explain you want to eat first after your long day, the answer is unheard and the common force of your cheek against the wall as they attempt to seduce you shakes you rather than unleashing your erotic. The push and shoving trying to get them off the bruises that were left from the day before, are followed by the shouting, “you can never appreciate anything! You are horrible and ungrateful, you don’t deserve someone as good as me!” Before you know it, the “sorry’s” you heard too many times from them, you’re on the floor, begging for forgiveness. Slamming your head into the wall, hyperventilating as you can’t predict their next move, and locking yourself in the bathroom because it is the only place you feel safe, is another routine night. When is it too much? How much can you take before it is too late?

Sometimes Domestic Violence is not in the extremes of violence, but simply verbal abuse and controlling the behavior of friends, family, and intimate partners. You can never imagine the person saying, “I love you,” also insulting you, and dragging you down to your lowest points. Those three magical words that make anyone feel special are enough, and the time they almost hit you is easily mistaken for “they just care too much, they just love me.” There are many categories of Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) such as physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and coercion, reproductive coercion, financial abuse, and digital abuse (National Domestic Violence Hotline). It is important to note how many Americans suffer issues of Domestic Violence. According to the NCADV, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute in the United States. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually.

This issue is prevalent in every community, and affects anyone regardless of their age, race sexual orientation, gender, socio-economic status, religion, or nationality (NCADV). It is important to know the resources, and ways to get help in escaping an unhealthy relationship. The National Domestic Violence Hotline at educates on the red flags in IPV and provides round the clock support for victims. In a healthy relationship, love doesn’t hurt. Sharing the important values of trust, equality, kindness, and respect for one another shapes a lasting love and not one that puts another in fear. Everyone deserves a loving relationship that is positive and free from violence. If you have concerns about your relationship, The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers advocates that are available to help 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or via live chat from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central time.