Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Written by Teo Miranda-Moreno
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, can be defined as the pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain/maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Not only is abuse a learned behavior, it can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This may include any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together or dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socio-economic backgrounds and education levels.
Recognizing the Signals:
Anyone may be a victim of domestic violence, without any regard to age, race, gender, sexual orientation, faith or class.
Does your partner…
Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family?
Put down your accomplishments?
Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
Tell you that you are nothing without them?
Treat you roughly—grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?
Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
Blame you for how they feel or act?
Make you feel like there is “no way out” of the relationship?
Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with friends or family?
Sometimes feel scared of how your partner may behave?
Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?
If any of these things are happening in your relationship, talk to someone. Without help, the abuse will continue. Making that first call to seek help is a courageous step.
Why do Victims Stay?
A victim's reasons for staying with their abusers are extremely complex and, in most cases, are based on the reality that their abuser will follow through with the threats they have used to keep them trapped: the abuser will hurt or kill them, they will hurt or kill the kids, they will win custody of the children, they will harm or kill pets or others, they will ruin their victim financially -- the list goes on. The victim in violent relationships knows their abuser best and fully knows the extent to which they will go to make sure they have and can maintain control over the victim. The victim literally may not be able to safely escape or protect those they love. A recent study of intimate partner homicides found 20% of homicide victims were not the domestic violence victims themselves, but family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders.
How to Reach Out:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Dating Abuse Helpline
National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp
National Sexual Assault Hotline
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
National Center for Victims of Crime
What do Experts Say About This?
Most experts say there is no one profile of men who batter or beat women. Domestic violence crosses all social and economic boundaries. According to Dr. Susan Hanks, Director of the Family and Violence Institute in Alameda, California, men batter because of internal psychological struggles. Usually, men who batter are seeking a sense of power and control over their partners or their own lives, or because they are tremendously dependent on the woman and are threatened by any moves on her part toward independence.
Statistics Show That:
On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.
1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (e.g. slapping, shoving, pushing) and in some cases might not be considered "domestic violence."
1 in 7 women and 1 in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner.
1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner. Data is unavailable on male victims.
1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence (e.g. beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.
19% of domestic violence involves a weapon.
Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.
Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.