October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
She was a strong one, that Priscilla! I have her to thank for protecting me from some of the abuse that was intended for me. I hated that she would run to stand in the way, but at the same time I was extremely grateful for a second or two or relief.
Priscilla was our mixed-breed dog: German Shepherd/Husky, though she ended up being more my dog than my husband’s. I fed her, I walked her, I took care of her. On the days that I was ‘allowed’ to go to town to shop for groceries (with the money that I was ‘given’), Priscilla walked with me. She stayed outside while I went in to shop. She didn’t need a leash. She parked herself smack in front of the store until I came out. I think she learned early on, as I did, that any forewarning about violence is better than none at all. I believe she parked herself in front of the door to prevent my husband from coming into the store where she was not allowed to go to protect me.
At home, Priscilla took less kicking and smacking than I did, but when she did, it made her retaliations equal to the assaults. Standing on her hind feet, her height matched that of our oppressor and for a while, she proved to be a deterrent. She went paw to fist with him and made more noise, too. However, since Domestic Violence is about Power and Control, my husband hated being thwarted by . . . a dog.
As the violence escalated toward me, Priscilla’s defense escalated as well. I had already decided that I was going to get away when I could and I knew that I could not take a dog with me. Escaping with a German Shepherd/Husky who refused to leave my side, would be like trying to escape from prison by walking out with a blinking neon sign that flashed “Prisoner Escaping!”
Priscilla had grown weary of defending me, because in so doing, the violence was directed toward her, as well. I knew she limped from time to time and that she had lost blood after one attack on her, but it was hard to tell how many bruises were hidden under her thick winter coat.
She needed to get away as much as I did and she needed to get away first. How and where that happened will remain as covert as it was at the time . . . but I saved her.
Domestic Violence takes so many forms and sometimes the physical aspect of abuse spreads to our pets. Today I am wearing purple for Priscilla. I helped her escape and in so doing, learned the lesson she taught me: protect and defend those who need it. If a dog can do it, so can I!