[Originally published on Oct 5th & 15th, 2011]
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Domestic violence occurs within every class, age group, race, and religion. It happens within same and different sex partnerships. It happens whether people are married, living together, or dating. Approximately one in four women has been a victim of domestic violence. Too often society--like with rape--places the blame on the victim and not the perpetrator. We need to change that.
What is it?*
Physical Abuse It isn't "only" hitting, slapping, choking, shoving. It also is using the body to intimidate. Physical abuse is also causing fear and intimidation via punching holes in walls/doors and throwing objects. It is intentionally scaring a partner by driving unsafely. It is preventing a partner from leaving their home.
Sexual Abuse When a person submits to sexual acts out of fear or coercion, it is rape. Capitulation does not equal consent. If a partner must "give in" because of fear of the consequences of saying no: that is part of sexual abuse. Remember: You always, ALWAYS, have a right to say no. Married or not. "Been a long time" or not. Always and without fear.
Emotional Abuse It is real--not being hit or raped doesn't mean not being abused. Emotional abusers isolate their victims. Emotional abusers will use emotional blackmail, guilt, and shame to get victims to stay and may threaten suicide if they leave. They verbally assault their partners with name-calling, mockery, public & private humiliation, and threats. They may expect their partners to ask their "permission" to do things. Emotional abusers can also be ones who constantly "know what's best" and blows up/rages if their partner doesn't submit to their "advice" (control). Economic abuse is a sub-category of emotional abuse: abusers use the finances to exert control over their partners.
If you are in an abusive situation (physical or not) you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (US & Canada): 1-800-799-SAFE or see their site. (they have a great list of resources on their site, as well)
RAINN is a particular resource for those who are being sexually abused: 1.800.656.HOPE or see their site.
*Not intended to be a comprehensive listing