Domestic violence is a major issue in society. Many of the victims stay silent and unheard due to fear and stigma. It’s important to understand the depth of this problem and what we can do to help those experiencing it so for Domestic Violence Awareness Month we at Union University have compiled research and resources on domestic violence and other forms of abuse.
Who: 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 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence 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. Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.
Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States has been raped in their lifetime. Almost half of female (46.7%) and male (44.9%) victims of rape in the United States were raped by an acquaintance. Of these, 45.4% of female rape victims and 29% of male rape victims were raped by an intimate partner. 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime. 60.8% of female stalking victims and 43.5% men reported being stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence. Any human being can be abused regardless of race, gender, size, age, mental capacity, or health, and that abuse can lead to significant health, emotional, and mental problems that last for years.
What: Domestic violence can display itself in a wide range of abuses including, but not limited to, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and digital abuse. In many cases, the abuser often tries to mask their abusive behavior as something done out of love. Likewise, the victim can rationalize even violent behaviors thinking something along the lines of “it’s my fault because I made them angry,” “they are only like this when drunk,” or “they really aren’t a bad person.” The abuser may pretend to have the victims best interest at heart as a way to get them to relinquish some level of control of their resources or faculties. Some abusive behaviors are:
- Physical acts of violence
- Threats to the victim or the victim’s loved ones
- Sudden outbursts of anger or rage
- Jealousy without good reason
- Keeping the victim from family, friends, or other outside social contact
- Strictly controlling when and where the victim can go
- Keeping the victim from work or school
- Destroying personal or sentimental items
- Denying shared assets such as bank accounts, cards, and vehicles
- Controls all finances or tightly controls spending ability with things like an allowance.
- Engaging in non-consensual sex
- Forcing the victim to engage in sexual acts they do not enjoy
- Using insults or derogatory names
- Using intimidation and manipulation tactics on the victim or the victim’s children
- Using humiliation as a tool
- Frequently turning small incidences into major arguments
- Threatening harm to pets
- Withholding affection
When: Domestic abuse can happen at any point during a lifetime or a relationship. Many times the abused aren’t even sure if the pain they feel is legitimate due to the denial, gas-lighting (a tactic used by abusers to deny memories and feelings of the abused in a way that puts the blame onto the victim), and general misleading of the abuser or even other people. If ANY of the above signs are applied to your situation, then you are being abused, regardless of the reasons the person gives for them.
Why: There are many reasons a person can abuse someone else but oftentimes that stems from certain common feelings or motivations. The abuser may not have been taught how to cope with injury or negative feelings while they were younger such as not making a team, being rejected by another person, or another similar experience. This lack of experience can keep them from developing healthy coping mechanisms when things do not go their way. The abuser can also have a sense of entitlement. In this way they believe that they have been embarrassed or do not like what their partner is saying, they are entitled to respond with anger or violence to make themselves feel better. Another reason for abusive behavior is a lack of healthy empathy. Many times, abusers can see into their partner’s shoes, but see their partner’s actions as based in malice against them instead of other things such as simple disagreement or fear. Many abusers have a lack of accountability. They hurt simply because they will not be affected by the outcome of their actions. Finally, abusers may have been victims in the past. Psychological evidence shows that if someone were to have suffered abuse in the past that they are significantly more likely to be come abusers in the future. None of these reasons validate abuse, but seeing the reasons behind why and abusers does what they do can be key in getting help.
What can I do: If you or a loved one is experiencing or showing signs of abuse, you should go to the authorities as soon as possible. Many times abuse can escalate, and by the time that happens it may be too late. If you need to call the police of medical services, be aware that you can ask for the sirens and lights to be turned of so as not to aggravate the aggressor. If you need help figuring out what to do you can call or visit the Domestic Violence Hotline’s website at http://www.thehotline.org/ .
Post by Ruth Duncan