Domestic Violence Awareness
The statistics on domestic violence in the United States are frightening.
- Every nine seconds, a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten
- 10 million children witness some form of domestic abuse annually
- Every day, three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends
These statistics are not easy to accept, but they must be confronted. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, giving us a reason to look into the warning signs of domestic abuse, and what to do if you suspect someone is the victim of domestic violence.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is defined by the Department of Justice as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.” Violence is often physical, like hitting or shoving. Abuse can also be sexual, emotional, or economic.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone. It affects people of all races, genders, sexualities, and backgrounds. While we may traditionally assume women are the main victims of domestic abuse, men make up 40% of victims.
What are some signs of an abusive relationship?
Your partner . . .
- yells at you or humiliates you
- ignores or puts down you down
- blames you for their abusive behavior, or tries to convince you that you’re making it all up
- sees you as property or a sexual object
- threatens to hurt you, threatens to hurt your children or pets, or threatens to hurt or kill themselves if you leave them
- keeps you from seeing your family or friends
- controls where you go and what you do
- withholds finances or keeps you from getting a job
- Seeming anxious to please a partner, going along with everything their partner says, or checking in with their partner frequently
- Frequent injuries, often brushed off as “accidents,” or wearing long sleeves or makeup to cover bruises or cuts
- Missing school, work, or social activities with no explanation
- Limited access to money or necessities
- Low self-esteem
- Major personality changes
- Depression, anxiety, or suicidal behavior
How to help
If you suspect that someone is a victim of domestic violence, it is important that you support them. Let them know that they can reach out to you for help. Ask if something is wrong, rather than wait for them to come to you. Often, a victim of domestic violence might be too afraid or intimidated to start the conversation on their own. Don’t judge the victim for what is going on, or pressure them into making a decision. Do not act against the victim’s wishes, like getting the police involved when they ask you not to. This can put them in further danger with their abuser. Remember that abuse often involves guilt, intimidation, and manipulation. It may be much harder for a victim to “just leave” than you think it is.
In the United States, you can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you are a victim of abuse, it is important that you seek help in a way that is safe for you.
If you are seeking legal help, www.womenlaw.org offers great resources on topics like finding an attorney, getting a restraining order, gaining custody of your children, and preparing for court.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.