There is help for domestic violence victims

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For some people, they wonder why we need to have such a month; others feel it is a very important time in which the spotlight is on the victims needing help with this issue and celebrating the survivors.

I fit into the latter group — I am a survivor of domestic violence and know how it feels to find oneself at the mercy of someone who once professed their love to an individual, only to turn around and abuse them. This past year has brought much to the forefront concerning abuse against women and men. Nearly 95 percent of all domestic violence is male to female. However, the entire #MeToo movement leaves me a little confused. The #MeToo is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault. It spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag used on social media in an attempt to demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.

It followed soon after the sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein; although an American social activist and community organizer, Tarana Burke, began using the phrase “MeToo” as early as 2006.

I suppose I could be included in the #MeToo movement, although my life has been violence-free for over 25 years now. I thank God for that. My book, “Jagged Memories” (available at Amazon.com or bbotw.com), explains how I lived with abuse and domestic violence for a large part of my life. I’ve had people ask me what I think of this movement, since I have survived domestic violence. Personally, I know women usually tolerate much before seeking help or going “public”. I sure hope those coming forward have truly been affected by domestic violence; otherwise, they only hurt the credibility of ones who have actually lived it.

The meaning of domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behaviors as part of a systemic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Domestic violence, in many ways, is a quiet epidemic. Victims fearfully deny their situation and hide behind the facade of a happy home. Here are several National Domestic Violence stats: One in four women and one in seven men will experience physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. One in 10 women in the U.S. will be raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime. Approximately 16.9 percent of women and 8 percent of men will experience sexual violence other than rape by a partner at some point of their lifetime. Data on sexual violence against men may be underreported. An estimated 9.7 percent of women and 2.3 percent of men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Nearly half of all women and men in the U.S. will experience psychological aggression by an intimate partner. Over half of female and male victims of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner experience some form of violence for the first time before 25 years of age. Doctors are well positioned to screen for domestic violence. Most are now adding domestic violence to their questionnaires for new patients.

The following are the five types of domestic violence and a brief description of each.

Emotional (also known as mental) — This is usually the first type used upon a partner. Constant verbal insults, name calling, violent temper, criticism; humiliation in front of family and friends. This includes stalking and cyber-bullying.

Financial — Restricting resources such as money or physical needs. Stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job.

Physical — This can start as pushing or shoving and escalate to actually beating your partner. Bruises or injuries that cannot be explained are signs.

Social — Isolation from friends and especially family. Extreme possessiveness and jealousy, excessive amount of calls/texts/emails. Controlling behavior such as checking the mileage on your car or listening in on your phone conversations.

Sexual (often called the “silent crime”) — Pressuring or forcing your partner to engage in sexual activities against their will. Threats to “out” a person’s sexual orientation to family, work or friends.

Domestic violence is a crime! Every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten. I am happy to report to you that although I have lived with this violence for most of my younger life, I have become a survivor. I received help from the Tri-County Help Center. They are a wonderful group of people. They have provided services to 500 victims this year. This includes crisis intervention, counseling, group counseling, shelter, legal advocacy, etc. They sheltered 156 survivors and their children for a total of 2,948 nights. The Domestic Violence Awareness Walk will be held on Wednesday starting at the center’s office; line-up is at 5:30 p.m. and the walk begins at 6 p.m. We walk to the courthouse for a short program then walk back to the office. Everyone’s invited. Tri-County Help Center can be reached at 740-695-5441.

Mother Teresa once said the following: “Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house … let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your warm greeting.”

I would like to leave you with the following information if you, or someone you know, needs help with this topic. Please don’t be afraid to take the first step to a violence-free life. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-773-7233.The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network and can be reached at 800-656-4673. The YWCA in Wheeling has a Family Violence Prevention Program. Contact them at 304-232-2748. Dial 911 for immediate help.

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