October 29, 2016

Domestic Violence Awareness

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and each year the nation strives to bring awareness to this epidemic that seems to invade our communities. This is a two-part post that first discusses domestic violence from one perspective, then shares a different perspective as we embrace healing.
We hear a lot about domestic violence, but some don’t really know what it all means. Some think that it’s just being hit or grabbed, but it’s so much more. Only when we truly define what domestic violence looks like, do we have a full understanding of the dynamics and what we can do to help.

First, let’s define what domestic violence is…
Domestic violence is the intimidation, physical, emotional, mental, financial or
sexual abuse of one person who maintains power and control over another. The frequency and severity can differ from person to person, however it has a long-lasting effect on their life forever. This can happen within any age group, socioeconomic status, race, gender, religion or nationality. No one is immune to being touched by domestic violence in one way or another. If you have not been a victim, you know someone who has.
One way of gauging a relationship in which someone may be experiencing domestic violence is to look at the cycle it goes through: the tension building phase, the battering phase, and the honeymoon phase. During the tension stage, the victim feels like they are walking on eggshells not knowing what to say or how to act around the abuser, the battering phase is when the abuse occurs, which can be any of the ways I mentioned before, and then the honeymoon phase comes when there are apologies and gifts and all the things necessary to “make up” for what occurred. As time goes on the cycle gets tighter and tighter and the time between the phases gets smaller and smaller.
Second, what does domestic violence really look like…
Here are some signs that you may want to look for in your relationship or to help someone you know:
  • Hitting, pushing, biting, yelling, intimidation, threats, use of weapons, destroying property
  • Insulting the victim “you can’t do anything right”, putting them down
  • Jealousy when the victim is around friends or family
  • Isolating the victim and not letting them see family or friends
  • Accusing the victim of cheating
  • Taking the victim’s money or controlling the finances
  • Following or stalking the victim, as well as constant monitoring of their phone or internet activities
Domestic Violence can look like the examples above or many times, worse. And the most dangerous time in this type of relationship is when the victim decides to leave the relationship. It’s important to have a safety plan. There is help available.

Third, how to get help…
What is a safety plan? A safety plan on the basic level is being able to prepare and predict what may occur and how to keep you or your loved one safe. It is making sure that you have a way to get to safety if something occurs, for example, if you’re in your home, try to get outside or in a bedroom, not the kitchen. Have a bag packed with important documents, medications, extra money and extra keys; make sure this bag is in a place that you can get to immediately, or store it with someone. Alert neighbors or friends so they can keep an eye out for any unusual activity or check on you every day to find out if you are ok. If you have children, make sure they know how to call 911 or how to get help.
If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy relationship or feel you are experiencing domestic violence, please tell a trusted friend and reach out to your local domestic violence program, law enforcement agency or church.
We are in this together.  

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