Domestic Violence Awareness Month

We may know October as Breast Cancer Awareness month but it is also domestic violence awareness month, and I thought it would be important to shed light on this topic as I think it is something that we hear about but don’t get much involved in. In today’s blog, I just wanted to give you information on what is domestic violence, signs, and resources for help.  All of the information I gathered by just googling and researching. None of what I am reporting is my own information, but information I have gathered from other resources. Most of the information is taken from https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/what-is-domestic-abuse.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic abuse, also called “domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence”, is a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. This may include behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic abuse can occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together or dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. 

Recognizing the signs of domestic abuse

Does your partner…

  • Put down your accomplishments?
  • Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions?
  • Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
  • Tell you that you are nothing without them?
  • Treat you roughly—grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?
  • Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
  • Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
  • Blame you for how they feel or act?
  • Pressure you sexually for things you aren’t ready for?
  • Make you feel like there is “no way out” of the relationship?
  • Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with friends or family?

Do you…

  • Sometimes feel scared of how your partner may behave?
  • Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
  • Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
  • Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
  • Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
  • Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?

Most only think of domestic violence being physical abuse, but abuse comes in other forms such as emotional, psychological, financial, sexual, and stalking. 

Emotional abuse is undermining a person’s sense of self-worth through constant criticism; belittling; name-calling or other verbal abuse; damaging a partner’s relationship with the children; or not letting a partner see friends and family. Does not trust you and acts in a jealous or possessive manner. Below are examples of emotional abuse:

  • Monitors where you go, whom you call and with whom you spend your time.
  • Does not want you to work.
  • Controls finances or refuses to share money.
  • Punishes you by withholding affection.
  • Expects you to ask permission.
  • Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets.
  • Humiliates you in any way.

Psychological abuse is causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner or children; destruction of pets and property; “mind games”; or forcing isolation from friends, family, school and/or work.

Financial is making or attempting to make a person financially dependent controlling financial resources, withholding money, and/or forbidding school or employment

Physical abuse is hurting by hitting, kicking, burning, grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hair-pulling, biting, denying medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use, or using other physical force. The following are other examples

  • Damages property when angry (throws objects, punches walls, kicks doors, etc.).
  • Pushes, slaps, bites, kicks or chokes you.
  • Abandons you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
  • Scares you by driving recklessly.
  • Uses a weapon to threaten or hurt you.
  • Forces you to leave your home.
  • Traps you in your home or keeps you from leaving.
  • Prevents you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
  • Hurts your children.
  • Uses physical force in sexual situations.

Sexual abuse is forcing a partner to take part in a sex act when the partner does not consent. You may be in a sexually abusive relationship if your partner:

  • Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
  • Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names.
  • Has ever forced or manipulated you into having sex or performing sexual acts.
  • Holds you down during sex.
  • Demands sex when you are sick, tired or after beating you.
  • Hurts you with weapons or objects during sex.
  • Involves other people in sexual activities with you.
  • Ignores your feelings regarding sex.

Stalking is any pattern of behavior that serves no legitimate purpose and is intended to harass, annoy, or terrorize the victim. Typical stalking activities include repeated telephone calls, unwelcome letters or gifts by mail, surveillance at work, home and other places that the victim is known to frequent. Stalking usually escalates.

All of this information can be found on https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/what-is-domestic-abuse.

With the pandemic forcing us all to make home our workplace, it is vital that we stress the importance of safety at home, specifically as it pertains to domestic violence.  More people are home, therefore more people are experiencing instances of domestic violence.  Understand that this is an important topic and must not be taken lightly. If you are in an abusive relationship or suspect someone you know may be here are some tips to follow:

For the victim:

Talk to someone. Tell someone you can trust about your concerns. If you have trouble talking about what is going on, write it down. Or, call a helpline for advice. Trained counselors can help you decide if yours is a serious situation or bump in the road.

Stay away from trouble. Do not start fights with a person that abuses. Do NOT make threats back. That may be what the abuser wants you to do, so you can be blamed for whatever they do to retaliate. Do not get in the way of flying fists. No one has the right to hurt another person.

Build a support system. Make sure you keep in touch with people who know you well enough to notice when you need emotional support. If your relationship is tearing you down, you need friends to build you back up. You do not need to tell them everything that is going on, but you do need to know there are people in your life who love and appreciate you for what you are. Just talking to them can help you remember who you were before the pain began.

Make a plan or make several plans. If you feel you are ready to change your circumstances, think carefully about what you will do next. Many people know how to help you do this, including those in advocacy organizations, counselors, clergy, and social workers.

What steps to take to get out?

  • Get help from a mental health professional or join a support group for victims of domestic violence.
  • If you are afraid for yourself or your children, call the police. Get a court order to protect yourself and your family. Let neighbors know and be on the lookout for violence. 
  • If your partner has left, change the locks or move.
  • Line up a safe place where you (and your kids) can stay. Make a list of important addresses and phone numbers you might need after you leave.

If you reach a point when you must leave to protect yourself or your children, remind yourself that you are taking a positive step forward. Using all the strength you have in you, move from a bad situation to a better one. Give yourself credit for being brave enough to make a hard decision.

For additional resources, go to https://www.thehotline.org/.

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