Domestic Violence Awareness Month – October 2016

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What is Domestic Violence?

  • Domestic Violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse or financial abuse (using money and financial tools to exert control).
  • Domestic Violence is a pervasive, life-threatening crime that affects millions of individuals across the United States regardless of age, economic status, race, religion or education.

What are the warning signs?

  • There is no way to spot an abuser in a crowd, but most abusers share some common characteristics.
  • Some of the subtle warning signs include:
    • They insist on moving too quickly into relationships.
    • They can be very charming and may seem too good to be true.
    • They insist that you stop participating in leisure activities or spending time with family and friends.
    • They are extremely jealous and controlling.
    • They do not take responsibility for their actions and blame others for everything that goes wrong.
    • They criticize their partner’s appearance and make frequent put-downs.
    • Their words and actions don’t match.
  • Any one of these behaviors may not indicate abusive actions, but it’s important to know the red flags and take time to explore them.

Who Batters and Why?

  • People who batter have a need to gain and maintain all of the power and control in the relationship.
  • People who batter come from all walks of life but have common characteristics:
    • Insecure
    • Emotionally dependent
    • Excessively jealous
    • Manipulative
    • Can be very charming and then suddenly angry and violent.
  • Abusive behaviors are chosen to maintain power and control.
  • Abusers will tell you that you caused the abuse or that you are “crazy.” This is not true. Nobody likes being abused or is responsible for someone else’s behavior.

Forms of Abuse

  • Physical Abuse
    • Physical abuse is a powerful way that an abusive person gets and keeps their partner under control and it instills an environment of constant fear.
    • Physical Abuse is the most common form of abuse.
    • If physical abuse is present early on in a relationship, it commonly gets worse over time.
    • If there is no physical abuse in the relationship, it may begin to occur when the victim is pregnant or when the victim is considering leaving the relationship.
    • Physical abuse can include: hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, using or threatening to use weapons, shoving, throwing things and denying medical treatment.
  • Sexual Abuse
    • Some form of sexual abuse is common in abusive relationships but it is often the least discussed.  
    • Sexual abuse may include: physically forcing sex, making you feel fearful about saying no to sex, forcing sex with other partners, forcing you to participate in demeaning or degrading sexual acts and violence or name calling during sex.
  • Emotional Abuse
    • Emotional abuse occurs in some form in all relationships.  
    • Commonly, emotional abuse makes the victim feel like they are responsible for the abuse and to feel crazy, worthless, and hopeless.
    • Emotional abuse can include: constant put-downs or criticisms, name calling, acting superior, minimizing the abuse or blaming you for the behavior, isolating you from family and friends, excessive jealousy and watching your every move.
  • Financial Abuse
    • This form of abuse is one of the least commonly known but one of the most powerful tactic of entrapping a victim in the relationship.
    • Financial abuse can include: giving you an allowance, not letting you have your own money, hiding family assets, running up debt, interfering with your job and ruining your credit.

What can we do to help?

  • Everyone can speak out against domestic violence.
  • Members of the public can donate to local, statewide or national anti-domestic violence programs or victim assistance programs.
  • We can teach our children about what healthy relationships look like by example and talking about it.
  • You can call on your public officials to support life-saving domestic violence services and hold them accountable.

Resources

  • IF YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER CALL 911
  • For help and assistance call the U.S. National Domestic Hotline at

 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224

  • There are several local shelters including Safe Harbor (Northshore) and Metropolitan Shelter for Women and Children (New Orleans area)

*Resource:  National Network to End Domestic Violence, www.nnedv.org (2016)