By the time you finish reading this paragraph, nearly 20 people will become victims of domestic violence. Over the course of one year, that will equal more than 10 million people. Whether you are a victim or know a victim, domestic violence affects us all. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Let this be a time to heal, to be aware, and work towards prevention.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse.
Who are the victims of domestic violence?
Anyone can be the victim of domestic violence.
1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will be the victim 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.
1 in 6 women and one in 14 men experienced contact sexual violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
Children are victims too.
1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.
What are the long-term effects of domestic violence?
For the victims who survive, domestic violence is a lasting trauma. Domestic violence has been linked to depression and suicidal behavior. Other issues linked to domestic violence include unintended pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, nutritional deficiency, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal problems, neurological disorders, chronic pain, disability, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as diseases such as hypertension, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. Victims of domestic violence are also at higher risk for developing addictions to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
Is there any way to prevent domestic violence?
No victim should be blamed for domestic violence, as no one chooses to be abused. Increasing awareness and providing support for those who are abused is the best way to prevent domestic violence.
Know the signs. While some signs of domestic violence may not show up until months into a relationship, some signs are there from the beginning:
Being jealous of your friends or time spent away from your partner
Discouraging you from spending time away from your partner
Embarrassing or shaming you
Controlling all financial decisions
Making you feel guilty for all the problems in the relationship
Preventing you from working
Intentionally damaging your property
Threatening violence against you, your pets or someone you love to gain compliance
Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to
Intimidating you physically, especially with weapons
Leaving an abusive relationship is sometimes easier said than done. Leave if you can safely. Leaving a domestic abuse relationship is often the most dangerous time for a victim. Of those victims, the danger can be more serious for racially and sexually marginalized communities.
Write everything down.
If you are in an abusive relationship, document everything. Write down the dates, times, take pictures. All this information will be useful when filing a police report or a court case.