October is domestic violence awareness month. I never thought I would be writing about this important topic. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when a very close family member of mine was physically abused that I realized domestic violence is not just an isolated instance, but a growing problem in today’s society, all over the world. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. There are spouses, siblings, elders, and children, suffering at the hands of abusers right now.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is merely not just physical, but is any behavior that is intended to control another person through the use of verbal assaults. Domestic violence is a highly important social issue because of its large negative affect on the victims. Even though either male or female can cause domestic violence, the male due to their large physical advantage usually causes it.
What is considered abuse?
- Threats of physical violence (slapping, kicking, punching, use of weapons)
- Threats of sexual violence (forcing sex without permission, weather you are married or not)
- Emotional or physiological abuse (name calling, degrading)
- Financial abuse (withholding money, ruining credit, stopping partner from working a job or getting one)
- Stalking (excessive calls/texts/emails, monitoring daily activities, using technology to track a persons location)
What causes domestic violence?
- Unemployment or financial difficulties
- Low self-esteem and jealousy
- Previous childhood abuse (learned behavior)
- The need to dominate
Warning signs your family member or friend is a victim:
- Their partner puts them down in front of other people
- They are constantly worried about making their partner angry
- They make excuses for their partner’s behavior
- Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive
- They have unexplained marks or injuries
- They’ve stopped spending time with friends and family
- They are depressed or anxious, or you notice changes in their personality
- Preventing domestic violence
How you can help:
Be supportive and listen
Let them know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure them that they are not alone and that there is help and support out there. It may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. Let them know that you are available to help whenever they may need it. What they need most is someone who will believe and listen.
Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. They may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize their decisions or try to guilt them. They will need your support even more during those times.
Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance.
Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or support groups. Call the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to get a referral to one of these programs near you. Offer to go with them. If they have to go to the police, court or lawyer’s office, offer to go along for moral support.
Remember you cannot rescue them.
Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately they are the one who has to make the decisions about what they want to do. It’s important for you to support them no matter what they decide, and help them find a way to safety and peace.
Domestic violence is often learned behavior. An abuser who has witnessed abuse or experienced it at young age will grow up with this instilled personality. However, this is not proven that a child raised this way will become an abuser. Children who experience such abuse will likely need medical attention for mental health issues. When children haven’t received the assistance they need, the cycle continues and their children will likely suffer from the same domestic violence. We must teach our children that violence is wrong and show them various methods of problem solving. Educating and leading by example will show our society the change we desperately need.
Many abusers have multiple charges against them, yet nothing is being done. We need stricter laws that will teach abusers domestic violence is a major crime that they simply can’t get away with. The message is clear. Domestic violence is an ongoing issue and there needs to be more being done to stop it. It will continue to take over our society and the abusers will always have the power. Let us not be silenced! If we stand together as one, educate, and actively make a change, the laws will strengthen, and we will win.
To all those affected by domestic viloence:
You are beautiful.
You are strong.
You are LOVED.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6