Helpful Domestic Violence Resources

For many years, domestic violence wasn’t taken seriously. Unfortunately, sometimes the victims of domestic violence weren’t believed until it was too late. Domestic violence still occurs, but by raising public awareness, victims now have a voice, resources and options. There is still a long way to go, and many more victims who fear coming forward and speaking out, but knowing what help is available and where to go can give you some peace of mind.

Hope is the candle in the darkness, and armed with the information in this article, those who are domestic violence victims or close to someone who is a victim, can use that candle to light their path to a better life.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence goes by several names including intimate partner violence, domestic abuse or relationship violence. This happens when one partner attempts to control the other partner in the relationship by force whether economically, emotionally or sexually. Domestic violence knows no boundaries. Anyone of any race, age, sexual preference, religion or gender can become a victim or the abuser. You can be married, living together or dating. You can be rich, poor; college educated or never graduated from high school.

Domestic abuse follows a cycle

You and your partner may go through periods of time when things seem to have calmed down or seem almost normal. However, the periods of time following these are usually marked by abuse that has a higher degree of intensity. Unfortunately, the cycle often continues to repeat and continues to grow in intensity as time goes by. Every relationship is different, and the patterns for abuse differ as well. Some abuse cycles may happen more rapidly than others and some may develop over a longer period of time. The only thing that remains unchanged is the abuser’s ability to use different abuse tactics to exert complete control over their victim.

Warning Signs

Domestic abuse looks different in every relationship. And, no one can really tell if a relationship will turn abusive at first. The only common thread in all abusive relationships is that the abuser exhibits many different abusive behaviors that are designed to hold power over the victim.

These are some abusive relationship signs:

* Humiliation of the victim
* Extreme jealousy
* Isolating of the victim from family and friends
* Extreme financial control
* Frightening behavior
* Making all the decisions for every situation
* Uses children as a bargaining tool
* Keeping the victim from work or school
* Threatening with any type of weapon
* Pressures victim for sex or inappropriate sexual behavior
* Using drugs or alcohol to exert control

Signs others are being abused:

* Constantly trying to please their partner
* Nervousness about their partner or when discussing partner
* Harassed by partner by phone or text or tech device is constantly monitored
* Says partner is jealous or possessive
* Talks about “accidental” injuries
* Missing work or school frequently with or without excuses
* Low self-esteem, depression or anxiety
* Obvious attempts to cover injuries
* Blaming themselves for their abusive situation
* Confrontational when discussing partner

It’s not easy for domestic violence victims to admit they’re being abused. It’s harder still for victims to try to leave. They fear for their lives or lives of their children; they may think it will change; or they may fear that their abuser will go to jail.

It’s heart wrenching to see someone you love or care for suffer abuse. Just remember, you can always lend a hand or an ear and have lots of patience and understanding for those you care about in an abusive relationship. Don’t judge or criticize, they already more of that than they need. Just let them know it’s not their fault and they’re not alone. The best gift you can give someone in an abusive relationship is to let them know that you are reaching out to them to be the safe harbor during their storm.

Getting Help

If you recognize these signs in your relationship, or if you see it in the relationship of someone you care about, please act now. Don’t wait to get help. Your life and/or the lives of your children may depend on it. It’s NOT your fault. You can take steps to leave your situation, even though it may seem difficult. Every state in the US has domestic violence resources, confidential hotlines, shelters for you and your children and even the family pets. You can reach out in complete confidence to get help to end your violent situation.

Check with an advocate at your local domestic violence program for assistance. They can be your voice when you are in crisis. It is very hard to maintain perspective, take care of yourself or others when you are afraid or emotionally destroyed. The domestic violence program advocate can contact services for financial assistance or childcare or legal representation. You can also call 2-1-1 in most states for domestic violence information.

If have already decided to leave, you need to know how much strength that takes to make that decision. Please talk with someone you trust and make a safety plan.

Here are four important points to consider if you are attempting to leave your abuser or you are helping someone to leave:

1) Acknowledge the abuse.
2) Develop a safety plan.
3) Reach out for help.
4) Get a restraining order.

Let’s briefly review each one.

1) Acknowledge the abuse.

Denial plays a huge role in victim’s not seeking help. They excuse their abuser’s behavior or blame themselves. Understanding your situation is not normal and you do need help is the first step to independence.

2) Develop a safety plan.

If you are making a safety plan or helping someone with a safety plan, make it as complete as possible. Here are some points to consider:

Find a safe place to go on a moment’s notice. Plan ahead of time, if at all possible. Get to a secure place and check out information for shelters nearby or you can type in any zip code at http://www.domesticshelters.org for a listing.

When calling, you don’t have to give your entire story to the first person you speak to, but be specific about your situation and needs. Have keys and important papers in an accessible container ready to go when you need to leave. Have insurance cards, credits cards, utility bills (proof of residency), and birth certificates (for your children), driver license and any other important information you need stored with a friend or family member for pick up later, so all you have to do is take yourself or your children and leave.

Create code words for help that you can use with family or friends. Use words that won’t cause alarm or trigger your abuser, but will let someone else know you need help now. Make sure those helping you are familiar with those words. You may also want to plan an escape route from your home.

If you have to leave during a physical confrontation, make sure you know how to leave your home safely. Know which doors have locks or codes. Plan your escape ahead of time if at all possible. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) has a checklist on their website that you can use to make your safety plan and compile the resources you need to change your situation. Visit https://ncadv.org/personalized-safety-plan for more information.

3) Reach out for help.

If you feel your cell phone or home phone is being monitored by your partner and you cannot speak freely, try to get to a public phone and call for assistance or help. If you cannot use your home computer or other device without detection by your partner, use a public library or other computer away from your home to contact a 24-hour domestic violence hotline. Remember, all information is kept confidential.

4) Get a restraining order.

Once you have reached your safe location, contact local law enforcement and request a restraining or protective order if necessary. Remember to keep it with you at all times in case your abuser attempts to contact you in an inappropriate or dangerous way. You can then pursue legal action against him/her.

Substance Abuse and Domestic Violence

Domestic abuse and substance abuse often go hand in hand. Drugs and alcohol often play a large part in violent abuse. Illicit drugs and alcohol tend to produce even more aggression in a controlling partner. These substances can help escalate an already volatile situation. Unfortunately for the victim, their using drugs or alcohol only puts a small bandage on a very large wound. They can only ease the pain temporarily.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has found that drug, alcohol or other substance abuse makes up approximately 40–60 percent of all domestic violence incidents. Victims in an abusive relationship are 70% more likely to drink alcohol excessively than partners in a healthy relationship.

Male abusers report more than a 20% increase in extreme violent behavior when alcohol or drugs are involved. Violence is 11 times more likely to happen during periods of heavy drug or alcohol use.

To learn more about these important issues, please visit https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/resources/domestic-violence/

Domestic Violence Statistics

General

* There have been 507 gun-related domestic violence fatalities so far this year.
* More than 20,000 phone calls are made to domestic violence hotlines on a daily basis.
* There is a 500% increase in risk of homicide during a domestic violence incident when guns are involved.
* More than 12 million women and men are domestic violence victims every year.
* 3 women a day are murdered by their domestic partner.
* Females 18 to 34 experience the highest rate of domestic violence.

Sexual Violence

* Women who experience any form of sexual assault by their domestic partner often report long or short-term psychological trauma.
* More than half of all male sexual assault victims report being attacked by someone known to them.

Stalking

* Both men and women report stalking by their current or former domestic partner including excessive texting, calls or emails.

Children

* 1 out of every 4 children has witnessed an act of domestic violence.
* Domestic violence and child abuse share a direct relationship link.
* Children exposed to violence in their homes were more likely to be physical or sexual abuse victims.
* Domestic violence ranks as on the leading factors in child abuse and neglect fatalities.

Teens and College-Aged Adults

* A national survey of high school students revealed physical abuse in teen relationships.
* Women who were victims of rape before age 25 were more likely to have been raped before the age of 18.
* College-aged women who were dating reported behaviors that were consistent with abuse including physical, sexual, technology-based (cell phone, computer or other device), verbal or emotionally controlling abuse.
* When asked, college women reported having at least 1 abusive dating relationship.
* Digital abuse and harassment victims (those who have a computer, cell phone or other device monitored by their abuser) are much more likely to be physically, psychologically and sexually abused.

In the Workplace

* Women who were killed in their place of employment were more like to have been killed by a former or current domestic partner.
* Domestic abuse victims who work are almost always troubled employees.
* The vast majority of US companies do not currently have an active workplace violence program.
* Millions of paid work days are lost each year due to domestic violence incidents that prevent employees from being at work.

If you find yourself in any form of a domestic abuse situation, please get help now. If you feel you can’t talk freely at home, meet with a friend, co-worker or family member at safe place and let them know what your situation is. They can be a great resource in helping you find the information you need. Don’t give up or get discouraged if the first person you ask for help turns you down, keep asking. Sometimes, your friends are just as scared or nervous as you are, but you’ll find out that the more you reach out and tell someone, the better off you will be.

Domestic abuse is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You may be eligible to take paid time off because of your domestic violence situation. Check with your employer’s HR department for a determination.

Thanks to Alice M.

Comments

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