WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior where one person in a relationship tries to gain power and control over his or her partner through fear and intimidation. This can take the form of threatening or actually using physical violence, or the abuse can be emotional, economic, or sexual.
WHO DOES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AFFECT?
Domestic violence happens to men and women in all racial, economic, and religious groups. The majority of victims are women, but male victims make up a small percentage of abuse cases. Children in homes where spouse abuse occurs are also at risk, both for being abused themselves and for having such problems as anxiety, depression, poor health, low self-esteem, drug abuse, and suicidal behavior.
There are millions of reported cases of domestic violence each year in the United States, and many additional cases go unreported. Approximately one-third of the women murdered in the U.S. are killed by their partners or ex-partners.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BE PREVENTED?
Domestic violence can flare up with little or no warning and from a spouse who is a loving partner in many other ways. The abuse may start as verbal or psychological, then escalate to physical assault. Therefore, the best time to take preventative steps, such as seeking counseling, is at the first sign of abuse. In order to prevent future abuse, both partners must be committed to making a nonviolent relationship work.
Victims should have a self-protection plan. Police can help when physical violence is occurring or seems imminent, and the courts can provide special orders to keep abusive partners away from their victims. Counselors and support groups are available for both victims and abusers. Local domestic violence shelters offer safe havens for victims and children as well as counseling and education programs.
If you are abused:
Protect yourself and children
Seek help, preferably for both yourself and your partner, but at least for yourself; and
Make the changes necessary for you and your children to live abuse free.
It's never too soon - or too late -
to admit there is a problem and
TO BE ABUSED
While anyone may be a victim of domestic violence, people who are less educated, unemployed, young, and poor may be more likely to have abusive relationships. Other characteristics of people in abusive relationships include low self-esteem, a background in an abusive family, alcohol and drug abuse, passivity in relationships, dependency, and isolation.
Be prepared in advance to protect yourself and your children if a crisis should arise.
Prearrange a safe place to go, such as the home of a friend or relative, a hotel or a shelter.
Have the following items packed and in an accessible place
Cloths (2 - 3 days worth)
Money, checks, and credit cards
Important papers such as birth certificate, court orders, and driver's license
Phone numbers of friends, shelters, and counselors
A PLAN FOR SELF-PROTECTION
If you answer "yes" to one or more of these questions, you may be a victim of abuse.
Are your afraid of doing the "wrong" thing, even if you're not sure what that is?
Does your partner watch your every move?
Do you feel sexually ashamed or humiliated, or are you being sexually hurt?
Does your partner refuse to help when you're sick injured, or pregnant?
Does he or she "put you down" at home or in public?
Do you avoid discussing some subjects because your're afraid your partner's reaction will be violent?
Does your partner place excessive limitations on the things you do, such as the time he or she "allows" for you to do errands or see friends?
Does you partner accuse you of being unfaithful, of being crazy, or being worthless?
Has he or she injured you physically, no matter how slightly?
Do you live in constant fear for yourself or your children?