October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It was established in 1987 to support victims and survivors, hold abusers accountable, and for legislative purposes.
Sadly, anyone can be a victim regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, faith, or socioeconomic background. It can include children, relatives, or other household members. It is a pattern of abusive behavior where the abuser has control and power over another. This includes:
- Hurt or Wound
The abuse may be:
- Physical abuse involves hurting another person. It may begin as teasing or small acts but will develop into greater physical force, abandonment in an unfamiliar or dangerous place, reckless driving, or forcing or encouraging alcohol or drug abuse.
- Sexual includes forcing a partner into a sex act or insults you sexually. This can include extreme jealousy or accusations of cheating.
- Emotional is undermining an individual’s sense of worth through criticism, belittling, and name calling. It can include isolation from friends and family and monitoring your daily activities. Basically it is humiliation.
- Economic is the attempt to make the person financially dependent and often involves complete control over all monetary assets.
- Psychological is intimidation and threatening harm to them or their loved ones or property.
The statistics are more than alarming, they are horrifying:
- 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, equating to more than 10 million persons.
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men are identified as victims
- On a typical day there are more than 20,000 phone calls to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
- Only 34% of people injured by intimate partners receive medical care for those injuries.
No one deserves abuse and you are not alone. Below are hotlines that you can contact. When you speak with someone you will be asked about your specific situation and together you will develop a plan for self care. Call one of these numbers when you are alone so that you won’t worry about interrupters. After the call, delete the number from your call history. If you are searching online, clear the browsing history or use the browser’s incognito or private mode.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
- 800-799-7233 (SAFE)
National Sexual Assault Hotline
- 800-656-4673 (HOPE)
National Dating Abuse Helpline
Pathways to Safety International
- 833-723-3833 (833-SAFE-833) (international and toll-free)
National Center for Victims of Crime
- 855-484-2846 (4-VICTIM)
Casa de Esperanza
- linea de crisis 24-horas (24-hour crisis line)
- 800-799-7233 (national)
- 651-772-1611 (Minnesota)
As a concerned friend or relative there are some things you can do. First and foremost listen (don’t talk) and believe what the abused person is saying. Encourage them to seek help through a hotline. Show support by finding references and resources. It is very common that the abused individual will not seek immediate help but often will make multiple attempts to leave the relationship before succeeding.