Domestic Violence

Chalkboard - ViolenceThe National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence like this: “Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another.  It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background.  Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control.  Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death.  The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.”

The Coalition offers some alarming facts as well:

  • One in four women experience domestic violence in her lifetime
  • Females are most often abused by someone they know, in many cases an intimate partner
  • Females 20-24 years old are at the greatest risk for violence received from an intimate partner
  • Boys who witness domestic violence are two times more likely to become abusers, both to their future partners and children
  • At least 40% of abusive relationships involved forced sex or sexual assault
  • Women are abused in at least 70% of intimate partner homicides
  • Intimate partner violence results in over 18.5 million mental health care visits per year
  • Most domestic violence cases go unreported

Abusers often try to control the domestic violence victim in the following ways:

  • Physical abuse, including pushing, hitting, slapping, choking, kicking, and biting
  • Verbal abuse, including threatening the victim or people she cares about, name calling, or false accusations
  • Isolating the victim from family or friends
  • Withholding money
  • Not allowing the victim to hold or keep a job
  • Forced sexual activity, sexual assault, or rape
  • Stalking or intimidation

Domestic violence often occurs in a cycle like this:

  1. Incident: the abuse occurs
  2. Tension Builds: the abuse becomes angry, the victim feels the need to keep the abuser calm, communication breaks down
  3. Reconciliation: the abuser may apologize or blame the victim for the incident or deny or downplay the abuse
  4. Calm: the abuser acts as though the incident never happened and life may occur as though nothing happened until the next incident.

If you are in an abusive relationship, make sure you always have phone numbers for safe places nearby such as the police, family and friends, and a local shelter.  Talk with close friends or family members and go over your safety plan with them.  Your safety plan should include family members and items such as money, identification and important documentation, keys, and valued items to take with you when you flee your situation.  The plan should also include places you could go if when you leave your home and people who you could rely on to help you. If there are weapons in your house, first try to get them out of the house.  Finally, open a bank account or get a credit card in your own name to prevent financial loss.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, it is important to call the police immediately.  Even though you might be afraid to report the incident, the police can help you and any children or loved ones leave home safely. Remember that domestic violence is not your fault, you are not alone in your situation, and help is available.

Website for further information:
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

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