“Unless men are active allies, we’ll never end violence against women and girls.” — Eve Ensler, playwright.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Affecting every socioeconomic group and culture, domestic violence ranks as the leading cause of injury among women today. Abuse doesn’t just happen in the home. It can occur anywhere.
Abuse isn’t just some accident. It doesn’t take place just because someone was stressed out, drinking and/or using drugs. Abuse is an intentional act someone uses in a relationship to control the other. Abusers have learned to virulently abuse so they can get what they want.
Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional and/or psychological. Abuse means committing actual or threatened physical harm; disparagements; keeping victims from contacting their family or friends; withholding money; preventing his/her partner from getting or keeping a job; sexual assault; stalking; and intimidation. No healthy relationship deserves abusive behaviors.
Many ill-treated spouses believe in staying with their abusers “for the sake of the kids.” But researchers have found that children exposed to domestic violence often suffer physical and psychological damage as a result. It’s better to leave a chronic abuser than have children excruciatingly suffer throughout a toxic relationship.
How common is domestic violence? Husbands/partners beat a woman every nine to 15 seconds (the lower the socioeconomic status, the higher the level of violence).
“Approximately one out of every four women will experience domestic violence sometime in her lifetime, and 1.3 million women are victims of domestic violence each year,” according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Gender-wise, around three-quarters females and one-quarter males are murdered in domestic violence homicides in intimate relationships annually.
Many critics argue that domestic violence should be solely a women’s issue. “Male feminists” should butt out. But many men are violently abusing women, which qualifies domestic violence as a predominantly male problem. Moreover, women don’t have a monopoly on detesting men that abuse women. Nearly every non-abusive man frowns upon violence against women. So domestic violence isn’t just a feminist issue, but also a male one. (It’s important to remember that women are also abusers and men their victims.)
Teens: When dating, you can be abused, too, especially when your boyfriend or girlfriend: gets very jealous and/or spies on you; will not let you break off the relationship; puts you down or makes you feel bad; forces you to have sex or makes you afraid to say no to sex; abuses drugs or alcohol; pressures you to use drugs/alcohol; has a history of bad relationships and blames them on others; or hurts you in any way through violence, or brags about hurting other people (Parents: http:/loveisrespect.org states one in three high school relationships involves physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner).
Women who are homeless have mostly been victims of abuse. The U.S. Conference of Mayors identified domestic violence as the No. 1 cause of homelessness in America. In fact, nearly two-thirds of all homeless women in the U.S. have experienced domestic violence sometime in their adult lives, according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence. And 30 percent of abused women’s physical disabilities originate from domestic violence.
So battered women who leave home often wind up homeless. Without the financial ability to make ends meet in affording a place to live, individuals and families can easily become homeless. Lacking a safety net, victims of domestic violence often succumb to an insecure, risky and frightening future. Some abused women can fortunately stay with family or friends, but a lot of women can’t.
Can abused women find safe haven locally? Yes. Grass Valley’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition “provides emergency confidential shelter where necessary for victims of domestic violence and their children who are in immediate danger. A shelter stay provides an opportunity for women to be safe, to access the resources they and their children need and to draw up a plan for their future.”
If you’re an unfortunate victim of domestic violence (or know someone who is), seek help. The local DVSAC 24/7 crisis line is 530-272-3467. The U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline is also available at 800-799-SAFE (7233). If you’re in immediate danger from an abusive partner, call 911 without delay. Personal safety should be top priority. Domestic violence isn’t okay. Quit being abused. Escape brutality or be a fatality.
Organizations such as DVSAC exist to help abused women. You too can help out local domestic violence victims by visiting http://women-of-worth.org (530-274-1774) and/or http://dvsac.org (530-272-2046) to make a much-needed donation.
David Briceno lives in Grass Valley.