October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I would be remiss if I did not address this very real issue in our communities.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic Violence (DV) is abuse that occurs by one partner against the other to obtain and maintain control over the other partner and the relationship. Domestic violence is also known to some people as intimate partner violence (IPV). DV can be physical and/or psychological. We must remember that race and culture does not exempt from anyone from experiencing DV.
What kind of behaviors are considered abusive?
So, what behaviors are considered abusive? Behaviors that are used to threaten, cause pain (emotional or physical), control, berate, and belittle one partner in a relationship can be considered abuse.
Domestic violence is inclusive of verbal abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and financial abuse. Various behaviors are used to break down the confidence and psyche of one partner to assume and maintain control of the partner and the relationship.24 people per minute are experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the US according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Click To Tweet
Some Statistics from the National Domestic Violence Hotline
- 24 people per minute experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the US.
- Approximately 3 in 10 women, and 1 in 10 men in the US have experience rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner.
- IPV affects more than 12 million people yearly.
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men 18 and older in the US have been the victim of severe IPV by a partner in their lifetime.
- Women between the ages of 18-24 and 25-34 experience the highest rates of IPV.
- Nearly half of all women and men in the US have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Some things to know about DV
- Abuse, in all its many forms, is common. In other words, either you, or a family member, or a friend in your circle, has experienced, is experiencing, or will experience DV based on the above statistics from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
- Families dealing with abuse try to keep the abuse hidden. Media, culture, partners, families, and themselves silence survivors with shame and guilt. Silence creates shame and blaming, which perpetuates the cycle of abuse. Shame and blame perpetuate the myth that survivors and victims have caused their abuse. Freedom is a God-given birthright. No one causes someone to inflict pain on someone else.
- No, leaving is nowhere near as easy people think and tend to gossip about. You always hear people say, ‘Why didn’t she leave?’ Leaving a domestic violence situation is not easy. Victims and survivors experience abuse in isolation. Most often, those with power cut survivors off from resources that could help them to leave the situation.
Additionally, research has shown that when a survivor attempts to leave, the abuser tends to escalate. If the attempt failed, the abuse worsens and sometimes leads to the victim’s death. If there are children or other dependents, the severity of the situation worsens.
- Support is not always readily available through legal avenues and/or the police.
- Social support to assist survivors with leaving abusers are not enough. Unfortunately, there are not enough resources currently available to assist survivors of abuse to not only leave the situation, but to repair and rebuild their lives after they’ve left their abusers. Oftentimes, survivors deal with financial abuse, so when survivors leave, they have nothing to leave with to start a new life.
- Abuse escalates. The intensity, frequency, volatility, and the damage increases.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) highlighted the below warning signs to look for in individuals who could be potential abusers. Please pay attention to these signs in people that you are considering dating. Domestic violence awareness is important for all of us. Above all else, awareness helps us and our loved ones build healthier relationships and identify red flags earlier in new relationships.
Be sure to monitor behaviors that are inconsistent in your partner. Is your partner emotionally volatile? Do you feel that your partner withholds affection from you when they feel wronged? Do you witness a lot of mood swings in your partner?
Does your partner try to control access to your every move and every decision? Is your partner isolating you from your family and friends?
Additionally, does your partner remind you constantly of your gender roles and responsibilities but do not subscribe to the same rules? Is there a history of intimate partner violence in your partners’ families? What’s your partner’s behavior like? Lastly, do you notice chameleon-like behaviors in your partners? That is, do they appear volatile when you are alone but charming to others in external environments?
Here are ten warning signs:
- Extreme jealousy
- Temper issues
- Animal cruelty
- Verbal abuse
- Controlling behaviors
- Forcing intercourse against partner’s will
- Control of finances
- Sabotaging birth control
Black women and Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is an issue within the Black community. Yet, the Black community does not readily discuss domestic violence awareness. I’ve grown up watching relationships in which DV was a common occurrence.
As noted by the Women of Color Network, social issues such as poverty, education, job opportunities, and access to access to healthcare are important risk factors. Additionally, the Black community faces cultural issues such as language, immigration, and cultural and religious beliefs that are deeply rooted and affect perception of domestic violence. The Black community These beliefs heavily influences whether DV is reported.
Hence, the social issues that Black women face in our societies automatically puts Black women at a disadvantage to leave a relationship when signs of DV become evident. Black women, additionally, deal with other factors such as cultural stigma and religious beliefs that add pressure to stay in abusive relationships.
We’ve been taught by culture, stereotypes, and sometimes our parents, that what happens in the home stays in the home. Many of us have been taught that a woman always stands by her man. Our psyches have, for many years, been coping with the concept of ‘ride or die.’ From early childhood, we came to know the ‘strong black woman’ mentality.
If Black women do take the chance to report their DV experience, they deal with various issues that deter them. Black women deal with systemic racism and prejudice, racial profiling, and social perceptions. These systemic issues affect how they are treated, how serious their cases are taken, and whether their cases are actually investigated.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) noted that within the minority communities, African Americans experience higher rates of domestic violence than white women. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research reported that 4 in 10 Black women experience intimate partner physical violence in their lifetime. The IWPR noted that Black women had higher rates of psychological abuse. The Institute reported that Black women have a high risk of being killed by men. As a result, we must do our best to educate the Black population about domestic violence and its consequences.
Resources for DV
The National Domestic Violence is one of the most well-known resources. Therefore, they can provide help to survivors by providing materials, legal assistance, and various other forms of assistance. They have a hotline that is accessible at 1-800-799-7233.
Another resource is the NCADV. They provide resources, materials, and support for survivors.
There are many state and city resources in cities and towns across the US. For example, Old Bridge has a local DV crisis response team. Additionally, there are also local shelters, churches, and organizations, such as Women Aware in Central NJ, that can assist survivors of DV.
Consider the below diagram created by the National Domestic Violence organization; this diagram provides a lot of information on the complexities of DV situations.
Please be careful with sharing this post with someone that you believe may be in a DV situation.
If you could be the person in a DV situation, please review the National Domestic Violence website which has safeguards set up for quick exiting.