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~by Amy Lynn Burch

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” ~Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Statistics

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

  • one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime;
  • 1.3 million women are victims of sexual assault by an intimate partner every year;
  • 85% of all domestic violence victims in the United States are women;
  • historically females are most often victimized by someone that they knew well;
  • females 20 to 24 years of age are at the rate is to risk of non-fatal intimate partner violence;
  • the majority of domestic violence cases are never reported to the police.

As a result it should be clearly noted that all documented and provided statistics are only related to known cases of domestic violence. Additionally, commonly undocumented cases of domestic violence involve men who are battered not only in same-sex relationships but in heterosexual relationships, as well, which is believed to be at epidemic proportions within the United States.

The United States Department of Justice defines Domestic Violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.  Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”

Very few people willingly walk into a relationship that they know will eventually become violent. The typical romantic relationship begins in a somewhat predictable fashion: mutual attraction, mutual interests, a period of interpersonal bonding, a move toward commitment etc., etc.  However, without notice these once attractive relationships can turn from romantic to controlling and violent almost seamlessly. The earlier in life that the relationships begin with set dysfunctional patterns the more likely the relationship is to become violent in the future.

Very often, and in retrospect, victims will report that they paid little if any attention to the early warning signs at the beginning of the relationship with their abuser. Hindsight is truly 20/20 and after careful examination of past events most domestic violence victims can identify clear patterns and pathways which ultimately led to their abuse. Sadly, most victims are trained early in life to ignore the warnings out of compassion for other people, or religious doctrine, or the “do unto others” philosophy. Abusers, particularly those in an interpersonal relationship, know well how to exploit the compliance and kindness of their victims

Ironically, the more compliant and accommodating the domestic violence sufferer, the more demanding and abusive the perpetrator usually becomes. Abusers seek compliance as permission to continue their assault and when in fear of losing control of their targets they escalate their behavior through physical violence, emotional violence, and sometimes spiritual abuse. The predictable response by most domestic violence victims is to engage in self blame. “If only I had been kinder,” or “if only I hadn’t argued,” or “If only I [fill in the blank].” Victims are very often trained early in life to defer to all perceived authority figures which set the pattern for enabler/abuser relationships.

Domestic violence perpetrators follow a nearly predictable pattern of behavior which very often is difficult to detect from the outside observer. Once they have their victim well under control they work diligently to isolate their victim from all outside influences up to and including restricting the contact between friends and family members of their victims. They will very often go out of their way to shape the public view of their victims in such a light that they are perceived as unstable. Therefore, anything they say negatively about their abuser should not be trusted. Very unfortunately this tactic seems to work successfully across cultures as well as socioeconomic environments. The typical abuse victim does not understand that what they are experiencing from their abuser is not some form of love. DV abusers seek to exert authority and power over their victims and typically have no love or respect for them at all. This can be a very difficult point to accept for the abuse sufferer, and is often difficult to understand that they have spent often decades in a relationship where they were not truly loved.

We hear a lot about awareness and I would like to go on record saying that I am for that and it isn’t enough. Merely being aware does nothing to stop it. The ultimate goal would be to stop the violence before it begins which is one of the true benefits of awareness. However, once caught in the cycle of abuse it takes action often by those on the outside of the relationship to keep it from continuing. We have got to move past the “it’s not my business” self protective type of thinking and be willing to confront not just the victims but the abusers as well. Expecting domestic violence from situation to situation to spontaneously resolve is the equivalent of expecting a raging gasoline fire to put itself out.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, help is available. Suffering in silence will not make the situation any better. Reach out, speak out, save a life.

~Amy

Victim Resources

Emergency Phone Numbers

The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1 (800) 799-7233

The National Sexual Assault Hotline 1 (800) 656-4673

The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline 1 (866) 331-9474

The National Human Trafficking Hotline 1 (888) 373-7888 or you can text INFO or HELP to BeFree (233733)

Weblinks

For anyone suffering abuse, documentation is critical in not only ending the cycle but in also ensuring that the abuser is brought to legal justice. Susan Murphy-Milano was a tireless advocate and warrior for the rights of domestic abuse victims. Susan’s legacy is the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit as detailed at: http://documenttheabuse.com

http://www.ncadv.org/ 

http://www.domesticviolence.org/

http://www.dccadv.org/

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_types_signs_causes_effects.htm

http://www.thehotline.org/ 

http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/domviolence.htm

http://www.mysistersplacedc.org/about-domestic-violence.html

http://www.dvcac.org/ 

http://www.azcadv.org/

http://www.psychiatry.org/domestic-violence

http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf

http://www.vaw.umn.edu/documents/inbriefs/domesticviolence/domesticviolence.html

Domestic Violence Counts 2012

“For the seventh consecutive year, NNEDV conducted a one-day, unduplicated count of adults and children seeking domestic violence services in the U.S. on September 12, 2012.  This annual census documents the number of individuals who sought services in a single 24-hour period, as well as the types of services requested, the number of service requests that went unmet because of lack of resources, and the issues and barriers that domestic violence programs face as they strive to provide services to victims of domestic violence.

The full Domestic Violence Counts 2012 report is available along with a one-page national summary (in both English and Spanish) and individual state and territory summaries.”

Reading List

Domestic Violence Sourcebook by Dawn Bradley Berry

To Be An Anchor In The Storm by Susan Brewster

Times Up! by Susan Murphy-Milano

Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence by Philip W. Cook

When Love Goes Wrong: What to Do When You Can’t Do Anything Right by Ann Jones and Susan Schechter

When Violence Begins at Home: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Ending Domestic Abuse by K.J. Wilson

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