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Ugly words can’t be made better, no matter how they are presented.

That’s clear in Safe Harbor’s new Defy the Lie campaign to raise awareness about domestic abuse. The campaign features the “rational lies” used to “rationalize” abuse.

“At the very heart of it is this idea that our society has lots of different information about what domestic violence looks like,” Julie Meredith, program director at Safe Harbor, said. “The campaign really centers around this idea of raising awareness of what domestic violence truly is, what is at the center of it — power and control in a relationship.”

Rational lies might include:

  •  “It’s not that he doesn’t want me to have friends; he’s just protecting me.”
  •  “Yeah, he has a temper, but he never hits me.”
  •  “He’s mean when he drinks, but he’s always so nice the next day.”

The words, like their image in beautiful calligraphy, are confusing and complex, Meredith said.

“One thing we’ve noticed over the years is this idea of how we rationalize somebody’s behaviors in order to survive in the relationship,” Meredith said. “We asked survivors what were some of the rational lies they had told themselves and ultimately, what allowed them to defy the lie.”

Meredith said domestic violence is often invisible. Without bruises and scars on the outside, the reach of emotional abuse is often unseen.

“It’s normal to have to find ways to cope and survive in a relationship where domestic violence is present,” Meredith said. “Saying things like those quotes say — it’s natural that we try to rationalize that behavior.”

Meredith wants those suffering in abusive relationships to know that they are not alone.

Options and help 

She said it is not unusual for victims to say that they don’t know if what they are experiencing is bad enough to warrant help or even if it is really abuse.

“We are here,” she said. “We have services whether or not they need our shelter. Sometimes, people on the receiving end of abuse feel at fault or think that if they admit what is going on that there is shame. Not everyone who reads this and identifies with it needs to call Safe Harbor at that moment. Once they are able to identify what is going on, they can make decisions that are best for them. If we can be a part of that journey, we want to be.”

While there are different challenges based on socioeconomic level, Meredith said domestic violence isn’t limited to any group.

“Domestic violence spans all demographics, regardless of income level or education, race, religion, ethnic background, language, age,” she said. “Anyone can be a victim.”

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