October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which first began in 1981 by the National Coalition
Against Domestic Violence as a Day of Unity to connect battered women’s advocates across the country. Domestic
violence affects millions, both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and status. According to a report by the United States Department of Justice in 2000, a survey of 16,000 Americans showed 22.1 percent of women and 7.4 percent of men reported being physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime.
Domestic and family violence occurs when someone in an intimate or familial relationship attempts to gain and/or maintain power and control over another through a wide range of abusive behaviors: A single act may amount to abuse. It may include behaviors meant to scare, physically harm, or control a partner. Some penetrators may even uses children, pets, or other family members as emotional leverage to get the victim to do what they want. Victims experience diminished self-worth, anxiety, depression and a general sense of helplessness that can take time and often professional help to overcome. A clinician who works with victims of domestic violence may be able to help an individual extract her or himself from the situation, as well as offer psychological support.
Women are most of the battered party in a relationship, though men are frequently victimized too in both heterosexual and same sex relationships. More than 38 million American women have been victims of domestic violence. The technological revolution has opened up new ways for abusers to dominate, intimidate, and control the people in their lives through manipulation, cyber-stalking, and emotional blackmail. But the #MeToo movement and new research have exposed ways for abuse victims to fight back and free themselves from the fear and control of dangerous, narcissistic abusers.
When you’re in the thick of things, it can be difficult to determine if what you’re experiencing is domestic violence/abuse. If you can answer yes t to any of the following questions you may be in an abusive relationship:
Does the Person You Love:
- Threaten to hurt you or other people you care about?
- Hit, kick, punch, push, choke or use physical force
- Criticize or blame you for everything that goes wrong?
- Humiliate you in front of other people?
- Control your access to money?
- Control the decision-making in your relationship?
- Control your time and actions?
- Destroy your property or abuse your pets?
- Threaten to hurt you or commit suicide if you leave?
- Force or coerce you to have sex when you don’t want
Remember you are not alone you can speak to an advocate at the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, 1-800-537-2238, www.nrcdv.org/dvam
Written by LaVella Head