ECB Publishing, Inc.
Do you know what domestic violence looks like?
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the crime is considered to be a willful act of physical assault or battery, sexual assault, or any other abusive behavior that exhibits a pattern of power and control over a victim.
While domestic violence often results in physical or sexual trauma, it can also cause traumatic emotional or mental scars.
Domestic violence is more than an act of raising a hand against an intimate partner – it can include threats of violence, verbal intimidation or withholding rights in order to confine the victim.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) shares several ways in which acts of violence can be conducted without the perpetrator ever laying hands on the victim.
These ways can include:
Threats and coercion – Making threats to hurt the victim or the victim's children, threatening to harm self if the victim leaves, wrongfully reporting the victim to law enforcement, making the victim drop legal charges or forcing the victim to commit crimes against their will.
Economic abuse – Preventing the victim from obtaining a job, controlling the household's money flow, making the victim ask for money, creating an allowance system to restrict the victim or not allowing the victim a say in family finances.
Using children – Using children to relay harmful or hurtful messages, using visitations to harass the victim, threatening to take children away, threatening to harm the victim’s children, or making the victim feel guilty about their children in order to control the victim's actions.
Minimizing, denying and blaming – Making light of the victim's emotions and concerns, denying abuse or blaming the victim for the perpetrator's actions.
Isolation – Controlling the victim's social circle, limiting the victim's involvement with anyone outside of the perpetrator, using jealousy to justify actions or by restricting what the victim can watch or read.
Emotional abuse – Putting the victim down, making the victim feel badly about themselves, calling the victim names, making the victim believe they are mentally unstable, humiliating the victim publicly, making the victim feel guilty or playing mind games.
Acts of intimidation – Destroying the victim's property, breaking and smashing things, abusing the victim's pets, displaying weapons to threaten the victim, or by making the victim feel afraid due to the perpetrator's physical expressions, hand signals or actions.
Male privilege and misogyny – Treating a female victim like a servant, making all the decisions and not giving them a say in household issues, acting like the 'master' of the victim, defining the victim's 'female role' and restricting her to those roles.
“Domestic violence does not discriminate,” says the NDVH. “Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.”
Domestic violence is a topic that needs to be discussed and spoken about – raising awareness is crucial to preventing perpetrators of domestic violence from continuing to harm their victims.
On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the Jefferson County community is invited to help raise awareness locally by taking part in National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and wearing purple to show support for survivors.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month was launched nationwide in October, 1987, as a way to connect and unite individuals and organizations who are working on domestic violence issues and raise awareness for those issues.
Over the last three decades, much progress has been made to support domestic violence victims and survivors, to hold abusers accountable, and to create and update legislation to further those goals, but there is still much more to be done.
This Tuesday, show your support and stance against domestic violence by wearing purple and speaking of the signs, symptoms, dangers and longterm effects of domestic violence.
For more information on how to help end domestic violence in our Jefferson County, contact Nan Baughman, Domestic Violence Outreach Counselor and Co-Located DV and Child Welfare Advocate for Jefferson County, Refuge House, Inc., at (850) 342-3518 or nbaughman@ refugehouse.com.
Victims of domestic violence can reach out to the 24-hour hotline at (850) 681-2111 or (800) 500-1119.