Bobbie Holt-Ragler, DNP, MSN, M.Ed., RNC | Community Health Advocate | District 4
This is part 2 of a 4-part series:
The problem of domestic violence is a growing concern. It is often overlooked, excused or denied and unreported. Many victims of domestic violence remain silent out of fear. In addition, the victim may be denial. Perhaps more information from the victim’s view point should be publicized to generate more open discussion. When the victim tells their story and the recovery process, it provides a different view of the magnitude of the problem. Whatever the case, one fact is clear, we all need to be constantly educated on the subject matter because domestic violence is definitely not going away nor are the numbers of incidents decreasing. Another fact is that domestic violence impacts the family, physically, mentally and emotionally. It impacts our economy as well, because the cost of providing services to victims and children who have been exposed to domestic and family violence can be very costly.
What is domestic violence?
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. It is also known as intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse or relationship abuse. It can be in the form of physical, sexual, emotional, economical or psychological actions or threats of actions. The behaviors can be in the form of intimidation, manipulation, humiliation, isolation. frighten, terror, coerce, threaten, blame or hurt.
It does not discriminate and can happen to married, living together or individuals that are dating. It can affect anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender, all socioeconomic background and education levels. It is a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It may include physical violence, sexual violence, threat and emotional/psychological abuse even death. The different forms of abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship.
The 2015 National Coalition Against Domestic Violence statistical report revealed:
- In the United States an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute that equates to more than 10 million victims annually.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner.
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner.
- 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked.
- 4%bof women in the United States have been raped by an intimate partner.
- Intimate partner violence is most common among women between the ages of 18-24 and accounts for 15 % of all violent crime.
- 1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.
- 72% of all murder-suicides are perpetrated by intimate partners.
With the statistical data being so alarming, it is not difficult for health professionals to see how victims of domestic violence can be victimized to the level of emotional trauma, stress, depression and suicidal tendencies.
Relationships are different for each individual. It is important for each individual to evaluate their relationship for warning signs. The first question one should ask is “Am I being abused?”. Some of the warning signs are:
- see evidence of power and control or possessiveness. Has it intensified?
- feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
- avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
- feel emotionally numb or helpless?
- feel that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
Has your partner:
- displayed jealousy of your friends and control who you see, where you go or what you do?
- humiliated or yell at you?
- criticized you or put you down?
- embarrassed you in the presence of family and friends?
- threaten to hurt you or harm you or kill you?
- threaten to take your children away or harm them?
- blamed you for their abusive behavior?
- destroyed your property?
- intimidated you with a guns, knives or other weapons?
- Forced you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with?
- Forced you to use drugs or alcohol?
Experiencing one or more of these behaviors in a relationship is an indication that abuse may be present and immediate action must be taken to get out of the relationship. The first step in getting out of the situation and breaking free is to recognize that the situation is an abusive relationship. Threats and verbal abuse will eventually escalate to violence. The pain of abuse takes a toll on the victim’s self-worth, mental status make one feel helpless and alone. Each individual deserves to live a healthy life free of fear. Start by reaching out to trusted individuals and community resources. Help is available.
In an abusive relationship, there exist a common pattern or a cycle of violence. The cycle of domestic violence can be broken. However, the choice is up to the victim because the abusive partner will not change. The victim must take action to make the situation better and to protect themselves. If you know someone in an abusive relationship, show and convey concern about their safety. Encourage them to seek professional help from local resources because it requires a safety plan. If you are in an abusive relationship and is faced with the decision to leave, tap into the local and national network of supports. There are resources available in the form of shelters, legal services, child care and job training. Contact the national hotline @ 1-800-799-Safe and describe what you are experiencing and immediate assistance will be provided. If you are in a crisis, contact your local 911 immediate help. Reach out now and break the silence and take action! You deserve a healthy life free of fear.
Domestic Violence and Abuse. Retrieved from www.Helpguide.org
Getting Out of An Abuse Relationship. Retrieved from www.Helpguide.org
The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Retrieved from www.TheHotline.org
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2015) Domestic violence national statistics. Retrieved from www.ncadv.org