Women & Domestic Violence

Women & Domestic Violence

Violence against women is a topic that is slowly being brought out into the open and finally getting the attention it deserves. However, there is still a long way to go.

Did You Know?

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.
  • On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines receive approximately 21,000 calls, approximately 15 calls every minute.
  • Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
  • The presence of a gun in the home during a domestic violence incident increases the risk of homicide by at least 500%.
  • 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these crimes are female.

What makes something ‘abuse’?

There are a number of different types of abuse including:

Physical: Hitting, pushing, slapping, choking or pulling hair, which may or may not involve the use of weapons

Emotional: Deliberately undermining the confidence of the person, this behavior involves humiliation, threats, put-downs and ridicule. Professor of Psychiatry at Monash University, Jayashri Kulkarni, says, “Emotional abuse is often a weapon that can be wielded with no visible scars”

Sexual: Can involve a range of behaviors that are characterized by unwanted forced sexual contact with either the intimate partner or with others

Controlling behavior: Characterized by the abusive partner controlling what the woman does, who she sees, talks to, and where she goes. It can also include controlling cash flow, making a woman financially dependent on their abuser

Social: Isolating a woman from her support networks by not allowing them to see her family or friends. This can include putting down or criticizing family and friends, which can often lead to a woman distancing themselves from their social network

What to do?

It can be very difficult for someone to believe that their own relationship is abusive. If you are worried about the behavior within your own relationship, ask yourself:

  • Do I ever feel frightened of my partner?
  • Are there things I couldn’t tell him because I am worried that he will get angry or lose his temper?
  • Do I feel free to make financial decisions or do I have to get his permission in order to spend any money?
  • Am I worried that if I am late home he will think I have been seeing someone else?
  • Does he check my phone to see who I have been talking to?

Answering yes to any of these questions indicates that it might be helpful to have a conversation with someone you trust about how things are going in your relationship.

It’s important to remember that if you are experiencing violence or abuse in your relationship, you are not alone, and there is help available (See bottom of page for contact details). You are never responsible for the violence committed against you.

How to help someone you know who you think is experiencing abuse

Witnessing abusive behavior or recognizing signs of violence in a family member or friend can be distressing. Even more difficult is knowing the behavior is unlikely to stop unless something is done about it. What can you do?

Understand what the different types of abuse are so you can recognize it when you see or hear it. Look for the following signs:

  • If they cancel plans at the last minute without explanation
  • Frequent unexplained injuries
  • If they are ridiculed by a partner in public
  • If they appear exhausted or frightened

Often it is hard to get time alone with someone who you suspect is a victim of violence, but if you can it is helpful to indicate you are concerned for them and that you can be trusted. This can be done by asking open-ended questions and responding in a non-judgmental way. For example, you could ask, “It sounds as though you are worried about how ‘X’ will react, does he sometimes lose his temper?”. The next question you ask should be based on the response to the first, for example, “Do you ever feel frightened?”

It is important to ask the person whether they would like any help and then permit them to guide what might or might not be helpful to them.

If you need help, call the Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit http://www.thehotline.org