Domestic violence thrives when we are silent; but if we take a stand and work together, we can end domestic violence. Throughout the month of October, help to raise awareness about domestic violence and join in our efforts to end violence. The observed month has been running since 1995 when several organizations including the Family Violence Prevention Fund and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence united to tackle the problem.
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 is important to note that domestic violence does not always manifest as physical abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as extreme as physical violence. Lack of physical violence does not mean the abuser is any less dangerous to the victim, nor does it mean the victim is any less trapped by the abuse. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. There is NO “typical victim.” Victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life, varying age groups, all backgrounds, all communities, all education levels, all economic levels, all cultures, all ethnicities, all religions, all abilities, and all lifestyles.
Domestic violence should not happen to anybody. Ever. Period. But it does – and when it does, there is help. Maybe you have lived with abuse, maybe it happened just once; maybe you work or live next to someone who is being abused right now. Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death. The devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.
Every relationship differs, but what is most common within all abusive relationships is the varying tactics used by abusers to gain and maintain power and control over the victim. Nearly 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner. The victims and those who help them can tell you the sheer horror stories. Often the batterers have had a history of domestic violence. Many times, they are dealing with alcohol or drug dependencies. Way too often, they have been able to carry out their violence even after facing a restraining order, a clear indication of how pathetically weak and out of touch our judicial system has become when dealing with domestic-violence cases. Often, in fact, the victim gets victimized twice — first by the assailant, then by a court system that still at times treats domestic violence as a mere family fight, and not the crime that it is.
Domestic violence affects all aspects of a victim’s life. When abuse victims are able to safely escape and remain free from their abuser, they often survive with long-lasting and sometimes permanent effects to their mental and physical health; relationships with friends, family, and children; their career; and their economic well-being. Victims of domestic violence experience an array of emotions and feelings from the abuse inflicted upon them by their abuser, both within and following the relationship. They may also resort to extremes in effort to cope with the abuse.