By WOAI Intern Maureen Johnson
About a week and a half ago, a San Antonio man was arrested for allegedly kidnapping his ex-girlfriend
and holding her hostage for 11 days. Efren Plata, 32, tricked his 22-year-old ex-girlfriend into coming over, and then bound her hands, feet, and mouth with duct tape. The torture didn't stop there. He placed the barrel of a gun inside her mouth and pulled the trigger. Luckily, the gun did not go off. Plata also forced the young woman to have sex with another man for $250 dollars. The victim was finally able to escape after talking Plata into allowing her to see her mother and promising to return, but instead she went directly to the police.
Hearing this story was heartbreaking because I can't imagine how this woman will ever be the same. Fortunately, she lived to tell her story. but many do not. The worst thing about this incident is that she knew the man who did this to her. They were once romantically involved and a level of trust once existed between them.
After this surfaced, I began reading up on relationship violence and realized just how prevalent it is in our society. The June issue of Glamour magazine has an article dedicated to relationship abuse and just launched the Tell Somebody campaign to help raise awareness about the issue. Just a week ago my mother found an article that caught her attention and she shared it with me. That article detailed an issue I had never heard of before called "reproductive coercion" where women are forced to have children by their boyfriends/husbands as a form of control.
According to an online survey conducted by Glamour/Harris Interactive between March 3 to 7, 2011 among 2,542 women aged 18-35, a full 29 percent said they'd been in an abusive relationship. Another 30 percent said they'd never been abused, but then went on to acknowledge that, at some point, a partner had viciously hurt them: from verbal degradation to being strangled or threatened with a knife.
Relationship violence comes in many forms and those not in an abusive situation might find it hard to understand why these women stay. The most common answer is love. Others feel they have nowhere else to go. But we live in a decade where women are becoming increasingly self-sufficient. We are topping the boys in school, and growing up to become CEOs and the voice of our communities.
It was shocking to read that the National Domestic Violence Hotline received 281,787 calls in 2010 but 83,027 of those calls went unanswered due to a lack of resources. From now through October, Glamour is working to change this along with the Avon Foundation for Women and the Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program.
How can you help? If you or someone you know is a victim of relationship violence, tell Somebody. Visit glamour.com/tell-somebody
to learn more. Or make a $10 donation by texting TELLNOW to 85944 and The Avon Foundation will match every dollar donated, up to $200,000.