October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a month dedicated to educating the public on the realities of domestic violence, domestic violence prevention, and services for those experiencing violence in their lives. Domestic violence affects millions of people of every gender, race, religion, culture and status.
Every 9 seconds, a woman in the U.S. is beaten or assaulted by a current or ex-significant other. 1 in 4 men are victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. When we hear such statics, we are all taken back and shocked. People who are in an abusive relationship may face isolation and may stay with their partner for a number of reasons:
- It’s dangerous to leave. Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the weeks after leaving their abusive partner than at any other time in the relationship, according to the Domestic Violence Intervention program.
- Statistics suggest that almost 5 percent of male homicide victims each year are killed by an intimate partner.
- They feel personally responsible for their partner, or their own behavior. They are made to feel like everything that goes wrong is their fault.
- They share a life. Marriages, children, homes, pets, and finances are a big reason victims of abuse feel they can’t leave.
- Their self-esteem is totally destroyed, and they are made to feel they will never be able to find another intimate partner.
- The cycle of abuse, meaning the ‘honeymoon phase’ that follows physical and mental abuse, makes them believe their partner really is sorry and does love them.
Sometimes, people don’t know if they are really in an abusive relationship because they have likely been emotionally and psychologically manipulated. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, below are common signs of abusive behavior in a partner. Even one or two of these behaviors in a relationship is a red flag that abuse may be present.
- Telling you that you never do anything right.
- Showing extreme jealousy of your friends time spent away from them.
- Preventing or discouraging you from spending time with friends, family members, or peers.
- Insulting, demeaning, or shaming you, especially in front of other people.
- Preventing you from making your own decisions, including about working or attending school.
- Controlling finances in the household without discussion, including taking your money or refusing to provide money for necessary expenses.
- Pressuring you to have sex or perform sexual acts you’re not comfortable with.
- Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol.
- Intimidating you through threatening looks or actions.
- Insulting your parenting or threatening to harm or take away your children or pets.
- Intimidating you with weapons like guns, knives, bats, or mace.
- Destroying your belongings or your home.
During COVID-19 and these times of economic uncertainties, leaving an unsafe environment is harder than ever. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please know that you’re not alone.
If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
Domestic violence is a family, community and public health issue with widespread ripple effects that impact all parts of our community. It takes all of us to build a safe, peaceful and inclusive community. Please be our partner in lifting up our survivors and providing them the support they need.