NEW YORK - The coronavirus pandemic appears to be almost over, but another pandemic that remains in the shadows rages on.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Statistics show that one in three women will be abused in their lifetime.
Dr. Neeta Bhushan says she was one of those victims. She had a thriving dental practice in the suburbs of Chicago, and yet, behind closed doors, she says her husband was abusing her.
"I had this beautiful big home in Chicago that I worked so hard to obtain. I was married, and I was looking in the mirror, seeing myself distraught," She says, adding, "I am mentally scared. Physically broken, and emotionally distraught, and spiritually I was dead, because I had been living this lie."
Dr. Bhushan says she lived that lie for 16 months until she got the courage to leave on December 31st, 2011. It's a day she calls her "Awakening."
The pandemic has exacerbated the crisis. According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, domestic violence cases increased 25-33% globally.
And men are not exempt. The CDC reports one in four men will be abused by an intimate partner.
Dr. Bhushan says shame and stigma keep people from sharing their stories.
"Fear of what people would think. Would people judge me? Would people think I was this broken girl who had lost her mom, dad, and brother, and all she wanted to do was experience love and honestly recreate that family she had lost?" Bhushan says.
She has now written a book that she hopes will motivate women in abusive relationships to get help.
Domestic violence looks different, but experts say it always involves power and control.
Here are some signs to recognize if you or a loved one is in an abusive relationship:
- Preventing you from making your own decisions
- Pressuring you to have sex
- Keeping you away from friends and family
- Physical violence
For help, contact the National Domestic Hotline at 800-799-7233.