October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October 1 @ 12:00 am - October 31 @ 12:00 am
Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center (DVCAC) knows that Silence Hides Violence – we also know that everyone deserves to feel safe in their own home so… Let’s Talk!
Each week in October DVCAC will be talking about one important aspect of domestic violence and providing ways for people to get involved in this important conversation.
Did you know… 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime?
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used by one person to establish power and control
over their partner through fear and intimidation. It often includes threats or use of violence and
can include physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, and financial/resource abuse. Domestic violence can include physical abuse such as hitting, punching, choking, and threatening with or using a weapon; emotional abuse such as telling their partner who they can or cannot talk to, where they can or cannot go, threats to harm themselves, their partner, or people they care about, and monitoring behavior; verbal abuse such as name calling, yelling, and constant blaming and criticism; sexual abuse such as rape, forced or coerced sex, and interfering with birth control; and financial/resource abuse such as taking or controlling money, selling or destroying possessions or property, not allowing their partner to work, or making their partner quit or lose their job. Domestic Violence often occurs in what is known as “The Cycle of Violence” in which a perpetrator of violence is able to further isolate their partner from loved ones. It is important that we recognize this pattern so that we can safety intervene with those that we care about.
What are the Red Flags and Warnings Signs of Domestic Violence?
Understanding the warning signs of domestic violence is an important step towards keeping ourselves and the people we care about safe. Has your friend started to isolate themselves from people and/or activities? When they are around are they constantly checking their phone or do they have to answer/respond when their partner calls? Is their partner overly jealous or insecure? Does your friend have unexplained mood swings or do they display emotions that don’t make sense? Are they quiet and withdrawn? Have the lost interest in activities or stopped participating in things they once loved? Do they make excuses for their partner’s behavior? You know your relationships best- if you think someone you care about is an abusive relationship, and you notice any of the red flags listed above, it may be time to safety check in with them.
How Does Domestic Violence Effect Children?
Living in a home with domestic violence is often very traumatic for children and can lead to a range of serious long term consequences. Children confronted with violence at home suffer physically, emotionally, and academically. Without support and intervention children are more likely to fall into a cycle of abuse later in life. Young children can exhibit physical problems such as frequent colds or stomach issues, problems falling asleep, developmental delays, anxiety, emotional withdrawals, delayed language development, difficulty getting along with others, and hostility or aggression. As children get older they can have low self-esteem, increased aggression, shame, delinquent behavior, show patters of blaming others (especially their parents), the inappropriate belief that violence cause be used to resolve conflict, or patterns of truancy, running away, or substance abuse.
Why do Victims Stay in Abuse Relationships?
There are many barriers to leaving an abusive relationship. The biggest reason being the potential harm that the victim will face when they make the choice to leave, leaving is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence and it is important that victims who choose to
leave, leave safely. Victims often stay in unsafe or abusive situations because of fear, they may stay for their children, or due to the control that the abuser has over them. Victims are often isolated from their friends or family and may feel shame or embarrassment about their situation. They may stay due to low self-esteem, feel as though they are at fault and/or deserve the abuse, or have a history of childhood abuse. Additionally, victims often stay in relationships due to financial or housing concerns. What is most important is to recognize that each person stays for their own reasons, they know their situation best, and it important to listen and support someone in an abusive situation, regardless of our own feelings or opinions.
How Can You Help?
The biggest thing we can do for individuals who are experiencing domestic violence is to believe them and to support them. Saying things such as “I believe you”, “this is not your fault”, or “how can I assist you in feeling safe?” can go a long way. It is important that we let people know that they do not deserve to be abused and that there are people who can listen and help. It is important to give someone in an abusive situation your full attention and support while saying upfront what your limitations and boundaries are. Communicate in a way that is positive and supportive, avoid increasing the risks to your loved one, and providing meaningful resources and referrals.