“I raise up my voice- not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.” -Malala Yousafzai
What is Domestic Violence (DV)
Domestic violence is the “intentional and consistent use of power to control an intimate partner. It includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound their partner—or someone their partner loves”.1 A person can be experiencing DV if they find themselves being controlled by the words and (or) actions of another person.
Who is affected by domestic violence?
Domestic violence can occur to any person regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, origin, residence, education, career, etc. DV does not discriminate:
- Women are not the only victims. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 2 reported that 35.5% of men in Kentucky alone had experienced intimate partner violence.
- DV does not only target heterosexual couples. Awareness needs to rise concerning the increased rates of DV toward LGBTQIA+ individuals. 1
- DV is not solely influenced by drugs/alcohol, which cannot be used as a rational excuse. “Abuse is a purposeful and deliberate behavior aimed at gaining power and control over another person”. 5
Types of domestic violence
The most common form of DV and the one that usually comes to mind, includes any form of physical altercation: hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, shoving, burning, strangulation (choking). Using weapons or objects as a weapon to cause injury to your partner is included in this category. Physical abuse is the most common form of DV because the results can be physically noticed (bruises, burns, broken bones) and are more frequently reported than the other forms of abuse.
This form includes treating your partner as a sexual object or forcing your partner into unwanted sexual acts. It can also be refusing your partner’s request to practice safe sex.
This form can be recognized by name-calling and belittling the other person. You may have heard of the term gaslighting: “it is an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power. Once an abusive partner has broken down the victim’s ability to trust their own perceptions, the victim is more likely to stay in the abusive relationship”.4 Emotional abuse can also be verbal threats of harm, stalking, or using technology to track their partner.
Any form of maintaining control over financial resources by prohibiting, stealing, or destroying your partner’s source(s) of income. This can be through neglecting the partner’s access to family funds or deliberately ruining that person’s credit. By doing this, the abuser creates financial dependence as a means of control.
How can you help
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! The more you know about a topic, especially a delicate one such as domestic violence, the more empowered you will be to help and speak up! “Domestic and sexual violence are silent epidemics that thrive in environments of secrecy and shame”.6 By shutting down unsolicited comments and jokes that condone harassment and violence, you are choosing to share your knowledge in advocating for those battling domestic violence.
Below is a sample script with various facts that can be shared.
Sample script: “The majority of domestic violence goes unreported. Passive comments and jokes can influence those individuals to continue staying quiet. Did you know that ‘insert DV fact here’“
- “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.” 3
- “1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.” 3
- “On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.” 3
- “Victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8.0 million days of paid work each year.” 3
- “Women abused by their intimate partners are more vulnerable to contracting HIV or other STI’s due to forced intercourse or prolonged exposure to stress.” 3
- “1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.” 3
- “72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female.” 3
- “Some studies have found domestic violence to be the leading cause of homelessness among women with children.” 3
- “Once in Virginia 2,000 women seeking shelter from domestic violence were turned away due to lack of space or resources.” 3
Domestic violence resources
The National Domestic Violence Hotline has provided a quick and easy directory that can assist in finding available local resources. From residential shelters, educational resources, food/clothing, and financial assistance to counseling and free legal aid, there are a variety of free resources available. Know what is available in your community and share the information.
Store the National Domestic Violence Hotline number in your phone to have it available for yourself or others: 800-799-7233.
Lead by example
Strive to end all violence by being a model. By representing yourself as a non-violent individual who values respectful behaviors, you are taking a step toward equality for all. Lastly, if you have the courage, share it with others. Remember, knowledge is power. The more awareness that others have on this issue, the more effective the change.
By: Stephanie Burris, MSW Candidate
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1 National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (nd). Domestic violence and the LGBTQ community. https://ncadv.org/blog/posts/domestic-violence-and-the-lgbtq-community
2 National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (2020). Domestic Violence in Kentucky. https://assets.speakcdn.com/assets/2497/ncadv_kentucky_fact_sheet_2020.pdf
3 National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (nd). Statistics. https://ncadv.org/statistics
4 National Domestic Violence Hotline. (nd). What is gaslighting? https://www.thehotline.org/resources/what-is-gaslighting/
5 National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. (nd). Helping to end domestic violence. https://vawnet.org/sites/default/files/assets/files/2018-10/NRCDV-HelpingEndDV%28English%29-Sept2018.pdf
6 New Hope. (2022). Facts about DV. https://www.new-hope.org/facts-about-domestic-violence/