October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). It is the time of year when we mourn those who have died as a result of domestic violence, celebrate those who have survived, and seek to connect those who work to end the violence. In support of the principles of DVAM, the Adams County Commissioners and other important county agencies issued a proclaimation declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Adams County.
The final paragraph of the proclamation read: “Therefore be it resolved, the County Commissioners of Adams County, Ohio along with the Y\VCA, Adams County Prosecutor’s Office, Adams County Job and Family Services, Adams County Children’s Services, Adams County Local Law Enforcement, Adams County Regional Medical Center and other important agencies hereby proclaim that October, 2015 be designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and urges our citizens to recognize and assist all those that serve the lights and needs of victims of domestic violence.”
Last month marked the twentieth anniversary of the Violence against Women Act. Since the passage of that law, domestic violence has dropped by two-thirds, but there is still work to be done. Domestic violence claims the lives of three women every day.
Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.
Domestic violence and abuse have only one purpose: to gain total control over the victim. Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear down and isolate their victims. The abuser may also threaten and cause physical injury to the victim in order to maintain control..
Domestic abuse or violence can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, denied or excused, especially if it is psychological, sexual, or verbal. It strikes couples of all races, religions, social economic status, and sexual orientations.
There are four recognized forms of domestic violence and abuse: physical, sexual, emotional, and financial.
Physical abuse is about power, getting and keeping control over another person through intimidation while creating an environment of unrelenting fear.
Physical abuse includes: punching, kicking, slapping, hitting, strangling, smothering, using or threatening to use weapons, shoving interrupting your sleep, throwing things, destroying property, hurting or killing pets, and denying medical treatment.
Physical abuse may not always occur in an abusive relationship, but if it is present early on, it generally gets worse as time passes.
Sexual abuse is common in almost all abusive relationships, but it is also the least discussed. Sexual abuse may include: physically forcing sex, making the victim feel fearful about saying no to sex, forcing sex with other partners, forcing participation in demeaning or degrading sexual acts, violence or name calling during sex, and denying contraception or protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
Because human beings become emotionally invested in their relationships, emotional abuse is always present in abusive relationships. It is a tactic used by abusive partners to obtain power and control and it can cause extreme, life-long damage to the victim. Emotional abuse makes the victim feel like they are responsible for the abuse. Victims feel worthless, hopeless, and may even begin to doubt their own sanity. It is so damaging that many survivors of domestic violence report that they would rather “be hit” than endure the ongoing psychic damage of emotional abuse.
Emotional abuse may include: constant put downs or criticisms, name calling, minimizing or blaming the victim for the abuse, using threats to create fear, isolation from family and friends, excessive jealously, and accusations of cheating.
Financial abuse is one of the least known but one of the most powerful tactics used to entrap a victim in a relationship. It is so powerful that many victims of abuse describe it as the main reason that they stayed in an abusive relationship or went back to one.
Some forms of financial abuse include: giving you an allowance, not letting you have your own money, hiding family assets, running up debt, interfering with your job, and ruining your credit.
Some forms of financial abuse include: controlling the victims access to money, hiding family assets, running up debt, interfering with the victim’s job, and ruining the victim’s credit.
Intimate partner violence affects more than 2 million women and 800,000 men each year. It is an extremely serious public-health problem that can lead to homelessness, injury, or death of victims, billions of dollars in health-care costs, and lost work productivity
Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. While physical injury is the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also very severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy feelings of self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make the victim feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure that kind of suffering—and the first step to breaking free is recognizing that the situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need.
Acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step in changing the victim’s circumstances.
Some of the most important warning signs a victim may experience include feeling degraded or put down, assaulted, or controlled. Additionally, concerns expressed by close friends and family members who see troubling patterns in the relationship.
Warning signs friends, family members, and coworkers can look for include frequent absences from school or work, numerous injuries the victim tries to explain away, low self-esteem, a change in personality, fear of conflicts, self-blaming, and isolation from others.
The prognosis of domestic violence can be quite negative if it goes on untreated. The emotional and physical consequences of continued abuse can be severe and even end in homicide. Treatment can improve prognosis.
The first and most important step in treating domestic abuse is to get the victim into a safe environment. Physical assault or battering is a crime, whether it occurs inside or outside of the family. The police have the power and authority to protect a victim. Thusly, the second step in treating domestic abuse is providing appropriate legal consequences to the batterer.
Laws against domestic abuse are essential in the effort to protect battered men and women from their abusers. Laws like the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) that was passed in 1994 and renewed in 2000 and in 2013, as well as anti-stalking and anti-cyber-stalking legislation provides significant prison terms and fines of up to more than $200,000 to discourage abusive behaviors. The Federal Gun Control Act and federal firearm offenses also now include provisions for domestic violence related crimes.