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October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

It is a good reminder that many of the violent crimes (stalking, physical violence, and rape) against women and men take place by an acquaintance and are often committed inside the victims’ home. 

 

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as 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 includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically.”  

There are a number of alarming statistics that paint a clear picture of how serious this issue is in one of the richest most developed countries in the world.  In the U.S. alone, more than “10 million abuse victims are reported annually” according to the Coalition. Likewise, “on a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.” And, “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have (will) experience(d) some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.”

Some of the myths about domestic violence are that it only affects lower socio-economic communities and families, or is restricted mostly to certain cultures, races, or religions.  That is a myth; domestic violence occurs amongst all socio-economic groups regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion and nationality. The physical abuse is also likely to be paired with psychological abuse, control, neglect, and dominance.  The ugly truth is that domestic violence has long term psychological effects and physical effects, and even end in murder - “72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female” (according to the National Statistics Domestic Violence Fact Sheet).

If you or someone you know has fears or has been hurt by a partner, there is help.  The 24-hour toll-free National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799- SAFE (7233), or they can use the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474. They can also use the internet for help and more information at http://www.thehotline.org/get-help/.  

The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence offers some a helpful plan for those in domestic abuse situations:

  • "Consider telling others you trust, such as friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, what is happening and talk about ways they might be able to help."

  • Keep your doors and windows locked. Install Door Armor.

  • Choose escape routes from your home, from your car, from any location where you feel unsafe and where you may need to escape quickly.

  • They recommend gathering an emergency kit with essential documents in case of an emergency.  Collect money, copies of bank account information, keys, your children’s birth certificates and social security cards, insurance cards and extra medications. Store your emergency kit with a friend or at your place of work.  You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to develop a detailed, individualize safety plan for your particular situation.

  • “Talk with your children and/or other household members about what they should do if a violent incident occurs or if they are afraid.” 

Most importantly, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence emphasizes, “Trust your instincts — if you think you are in immediate danger, you probably are. If you are afraid for your safety and want the police to come to where you are now, call 911.”