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Would you know a victim of Domestic Violence if she didn’t have a black eye? If there were no visible bruises on her wrists or arms?
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). So often Domestic Violence is associated with physical violence; the kind we see in movies and on television. The kind that comes with warnings about it’s being too graphic.
But what about the kind we turn a blind eye to? What about the kind we can’t quite put our finger on?
You have a friend, a neighbor, her husband constantly puts her down in front of you; humiliates her for small infractions, tries isolating her from friends. You notice something seems “off”, but what?
Emotional abuse does just as much damage as physical.
- Humiliating or embarrassing you.
- Constant put-downs.
- Refusing to communicate.
- Ignoring or excluding you.
- Extramarital affairs.
- Provocative behavior with opposite sex.
- Use of sarcasm and unpleasant tone of voice.
- Unreasonable jealousy.
- Extreme moodiness.
- Mean jokes or constantly making fun of you.
- Saying “I love you but…”
- Saying things like “If you don’t _____, I will_____.”
- Domination and control.
- Withdrawal of affection.
- Guilt trips.
- Making everything your fault.
- Isolating you from friends and family.
- Using money to control.
- Constant calling or texting when you are not with him/her.
- Threatening to commit suicide if you leave.
Emotional abuse happens more often than we’d realize. It’s happening in your neighborhood, in your city, and it’s victims are largely silent.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence lists the myriad reasons sufferers of Domestic Violence struggle to leave the relationship.
- The fear that the abuser’s actions will become more violent, and may become lethal if the victim attempts to leave
- Unsupportive friends and family
- Knowledge of the difficulties of single parenting and reduced financial circumstances
- The victim feeling that the relationship is a mix of good times, love, and hope along with the manipulation, intimidation and fear
- The victim’s lack of knowledge of or access to safety and support
- Fear of losing custody of any children if they leave or divorce their abuser or fear that the abuser will hurt, or even kill, their children
- Lack of the means to support themselves and/or their children financially or lack of access to cash, bank accounts, or assets
- Lack of having somewhere to go (i.e., no friends or family to help, no money for hotel, shelter programs are full or limited by length of stay)
- Fear that homelessness may be their only option if they leave
- Religious or cultural beliefs and practices may not support divorce or may dictate outdated gender roles and keep the victim trapped in the relationship
- Belief that two parent households are better for children, despite abuse
Statistics on Domestic Violence
A dear friend of mine, Author and Domestic Violence activist, Shari Howerton, documents her abusive first marriage in her poignant memoir Through My Eyes (available through Amazon). In it, she describes the realities of being in love with a violent partner, believing, hoping and praying they’ll change. Feeling trapped because of family and societal obligations, and the loneliness of being in a marriage those close to you know is abusive, but who choose to look the other way.
In researching more about Domestic Violence, I was shocked at the statistics (see below). How many other women do I know, or have I known, who have or do suffer silently while the world is oblivious to their pain? To what they go home to after work each night?
- Every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten.12
- 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
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.1
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.1
- 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.1
- On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.9
- The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.10
- Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.2
- Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.2
- 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon.2
- Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.2
- Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.2
Check out the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) for more statistical information.
What can we do?
The NCADV has advice and resources for friends and family of Domestic Violence, one of the most important being that we are not here to judge or tell them what to do. We are here to support and help. Click here to learn more.
Click here to find a Coalition Against Domestic Violence in your state.