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Exploring Womanhood > Relationships > Articles

Help Make It STOP!
Surviving Domestic Violence

  • Domestic violence affects more than 500,000 Americans.
  • According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • Approximately 85% of all domestic violence victims are women.
  • Young women 16-24 experience the highest rate of domestic violence.
  • 1 in 5 women have experienced an attempted or completed sexual assault.
  • 40% - 60% of men who abuse women also abuse children.
  • According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the costs of intimate partner violence annually exceeds $5.8 billion ($4.1 is directly due to health care related expenses), with $900 million in lost productivity and an additional $900 million in earnings over the course of a lifetime.
  • Children who witness domestic abuse are more likely to commit sexual assault themselves.
  • Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to exhibit behavioral and physical health problems.
  • Women who are abused as children are likely to become victims of abuse as adults.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and it's time to Help Make It Stop!

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence founded Domestic Violence Awareness Month 19 years ago in October 1987, as a way to connect battered women's advocates across the nation. This was also the year the first national hotline number began.

Battering is a way for one person in a relationship to establish control over another person. It's when the batterer seriously believes they are entitled to control another person. It can occur within every socio-economic group and knows no boundaries. The types of abuse can vary from emotional/mental abuse to physical/financial abuse. The types of abuse are varied, but the affects are the same. The victim is de-humanized, their self-esteem is shattered, and are typically scared into in-action.

In just about every culture batterers are male and victims are female, thus, every female baby is at risk. Each female has the potential from birth to become a horrible statistic. Couple this with socio-economic factors such as immigration status, education, and being financially dependent on her abuser and it's easy to see why many women are trapped in this lifestyle. Women with young or multiple children, those who are ill, or those who were themselves victims of child abuse can also struggle to get from under this scenario.

Batterers are masters at manipulation. They are intimately aware of their victim's fears and know how to control them through fear, intimidation, physical abuse, and repeated threatening behavior. Abuse typically begins as an isolated incident, but escalates over time. Typically the severity of the abuse escalates as well.

If you are in an abusive relationship, try to keep yourself safe with a plan:

  • Prepare a script of what to say to ease the anger being directed at you.
  • Make a list of people to contact for help. If you are fearful for your friends/family - memorize a hotline number and call it if you need help.
  • Find a safe place to go in your home when things begin to escalate, a place free of heavy or sharp objects. Make sure there is a way to escape.
  • Make sure you have access to a cell phone, or pay phone when needed.

If you have already left an abusive relationship:

  • Put as much distance as possible between yourself and your abuser.
  • Change your phone number and get an unlisted one.
  • Have mail delivered to a P.O. Box.
  • Screen phone calls.
  • Vary your routine.
  • Try to keep someone nearby.
  • Find a support group.
  • Notify everyone that you are no longer there and your information is not to be provided to anyone.
  • Determine an escape route in your new home.

Domestic abuse fuels a vicious cycle. Help end it one relationship at a time. If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE today. No one deserves this. Remember - even if your cellphone has been deactivated, you can still call 9-1-1!

Additional Resources:
  • Domestic Violence Discussion with DV expert Jennifer Landhuis.
  • Visit our Domestic Violence area of tough issues and submit your story.

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