The Minutes Stolen By Violence


Minute: a unit of time equal to 60 seconds or a sixtieth of an hour 

“In a minute!”  How often do you use that phrase?  “I’ll be there in a minute!”  “I’ll do it in a minute.”  “It will only take a minute!” 

In a minute you can microwave chicken nuggets from frozen to piping hot.  It takes one minute for the heat light to dry my nail polish at my favorite salon.  In one minute a blood cell can make a round trip of the human body.

Do you know what else happens in one minute?  Twenty people in America are abused by an intimate partner. When you multiply all those minutes into days, months, and then years that totals more than 10 million people annually.  One in four of all women and one in seven of all men are severely battered during their lifetime by someone who they believed loved them.

The other night, I checked my Facebook page before bed (I know, it’s a bad habit).  On my feed, I found these words,

        “So October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Every time I see that it takes me back to words you said to me one time. When I was going through hell and fighting for my life yet not really understanding what I was fighting for or even why.  When I was stuck in an abusive relationship and wanted so badly to get out and stop hurting, you said to me that every October you got up and read the names of women that died at the hands of a man that took it too far. And then you said, “please don’t make me read your name.” In that moment, those words struck my soul. They came from a voice that was fighting back tears.  They came from a place of love and genuine concern… Those words that you said to me, that knowledge that you gave me, saved my life. You told me I was gonna grieve much like there was a death. You told me about PTSD and the struggle I would face trying to leave an abusive relationship and when I needed it you gave me information for others that would help me… You saw me through the hardest weeks of my life and gently encouraged me and kept telling me truths and things I needed to hear. Though I did endure physical abuse at times, the scars from the verbal, mental, emotional and psychological abuse hurt the worst. Those scars are usually the deepest and the hardest to heal. Sometimes they don’t heal. You gave me the strength and knowledge to fight back. To fight for myself. That is still an obstacle I face every day but I keep fighting and I’m still going. So in this month of awareness, I wanted to take a minute to tell you that though to the world you may be but one person….to one person you may be the world. Thank you for being the world to me and for saving my life and giving me my life back…“

Wow! What validating words for a social worker, right?  That is career reinforcement, for sure! But guess what? Those words weren’t written by someone I’d worked with professionally. They were written by a close friend. They were written by someone that my children call “Auntie”. 

You see, “one in four” doesn’t have the boundaries you hope it has. 

That one in every four or one in every seven can include your friend, your sister, your uncle, your mother, your boss… I’ll stop for the sake of character counts, but you get the picture.


While I’m happy that we have Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I sort of wonder if it’s necessary. I am fairly certain that with those numbers, pretty much everybody is aware of domestic violence. The question is this. What do we do about it? My advice? Use your voice! 

Voice your intolerance of violence. Voice your support of victims. Voice your condemnation of abuse in personal relationships. Voice your willingness to volunteer, to raise money for trauma-informed care, and to be the person who knows what to say when your best friend needs to hear a life-saving message of support like mine did. 

If you don’t know those words, ask someone who does. Family Service of Roanoke Valley is proud to collaborate with TAP Domestic Violence Services, The Salvation Army, and other community partners in an effort to confront the issue of domestic violence in our community. Please, reach out to one of these organizations and find out how you can join the fight. 

Add your voice to the chorus. 

Yours might make the biggest difference of all.

Yours could save a life.

It only takes a minute.