Domestic Violence is the power and control of one partner over another in a dating, marital or live-in relationship. Domestic Violence also refers to a pattern of violent and coercive behavior exercised by one adult in an intimate relationship over another. It is not marital conflict, mutual combat, a lover’s quarrel, or a private family matter. It may consist of repeated, severe beatings or more subtle forms of abuse, including economic entrapment, psychological pressures, or physical isolation.
Who are the victims of domestic violence?
According to the US Department of Justice, 95% of domestic violence victims in the U.S. are women. We know that men are also victims but less likely to report.
How often does domestic violence occur?
Surveys from the U.S. and Canada indicate that domestic violence occurs in 28% of all marriages. Researchers believe this estimate is too low since most domestic violence incidents are unreported. According to a National Violence Against Women Survey, 22% of women are physically assaulted by a partner or date during their lifetime and nearly 5.3 million partner victimizations occur each year among U.S. women ages 18 and older, resulting in 2 million injuries and 1,300 deaths.
What are the types of domestic violence?
There are four basic types of domestic violence:
Physical Assault – includes shoving, purshing, restraining, hitting or kicking. Physical assaults may occur frequently or infrequently, but in many cases they tend to escalate in severity and frequency over time.
Sexual Assault – an unwanted sexual act victim is forced to perform or receive that includes touching of the genitals or breasts.
Psychological Assault – includes isolation from family and friends, forced financial dependence, verbal and emotional abuse, threats, intimidation and control over where the partner can go and what he/she can do.
Attacks Against Property and Pets – destruction of property that may include household objects or treasured items belonging to the victim, hitting the walls or abusing or killing beloved pets.
How do I know if someone is a victim of domestic violence?
The most obvious sign of domestic violence is evidence of physical attacks: frequent bruises, broken bones, etc. Often less obvious is emotional abuse (and victims often state that emotional abuse is far worse than the physical abuse) as evidenced by harassment, stalking and excessively possessive, controlling or jealous behavior.
Another warning sign is isolation: victims of domestic violence are often cut off from systems of support by their abusers, becoming distant from friends, relatives or neighbors.
Victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life, all races, all educational backgrounds and all religions. A victim might be the vice-president of your local bank, your child’s Sunday school teacher, your beautician or dentist. Anyone experiencing any of the patterns of abuse listed above is a victim of domestic violence.
Why do victims stay?
They stay because they are terrified that the abuser will become more violent if they leave, that the abuser will try to take the children, that they can’t make it on their own. The abuser has probably threatened their life. They may also believe that divorce is wrong, that the violence is their fault, that they can change the abuser’s behavior, that they can stop the abuse or that the violence is temporary. They may also be experiencing pressure from family, and their religious or cultural community. Since abusers often isolate victims, they might feel cut off from any social support or resources.
Who are the abusers?
As with their victims, individuals who abuse fall into no specific categories. They come from all class backgrounds, races, religions and walks of life. They may be unemployed or highly paid professionals. The abuser may be a good provider, a sober and upstanding member of the community, and a respected member of his congregation.
What can I do to help someone in an abusive or violent relationship?
Listen to the victim and believe them! Tell them that the abuse is not their fault, and is not God’s will. Tell them they are not alone and that help is available. Let them know that without intervention, abuse often escalates in frequency and severity over time. Refer them to specialized domestic violence counseling programs, not to couples counseling. Help them find a shelter, a safe home or advocacy resources that offer protection. Suggesting that they merely return home places them in real danger. Hold the abuser accountable. Don’t minimize his/her abusive behavior. Support him/her in seeking specialized batterer’s counseling to help change his/her behavior. Continue to hold him/her accountable and to support and protect the victim even after he/she has begun a counseling program. If reconciliation is to occur, it can be considered only after the above steps have taken place.
What is a Domestic Violence Protection Order?
A Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) is a legal court document, signed by a Judge, that can help protect the victim from the domestic abuse. The Judge orders the abuser to follow specific conditions of behavior; that is, tells him/her things that he/she must or must not do.