All of you know how much needs to be done to take meaningful steps to end domestic violence and sexual assault. We need tough law enforcement, aggressive prosecutions, effective prevention programs and available shelters for families in distress. Most importantly, we need to insure that more people know and understand that domestic violence is not a private matter. It is a critical national problem that affects us all –– in every community, in every work place and in every school.
Domestic Violence...What is It?
As domestic violence awareness has increased, it has become evident that abuse can occur within a number of relationships. The laws in many states cover incidents of violence occurring between married couples, as well as abuse of elders by family members, abuse between roommates, dating couples and those in lesbian and gay relationships.
In an abusive relationship, the abuser may use a number of tactics other than physical violence in order to maintain power and control over his or her partner:
Emotional and verbal abuse:
Survivors of domestic violence recount stories of put–downs, public humiliation, name–calling, mind games and manipulation by their partners. Many say that the emotional abuse they have suffered has left the deepest scars.
It is common for an abuser to be extremely jealous, and insist that the victim not see her friends or family members. The resulting feeling of isolation may then be increased for the victim if she loses her job as a result of absenteeism or decreased productivity (which are often associated with people who are experiencing domestic violence).
Threats and Intimidation:
Threats –– including threats of violence, suicide, or of taking away the children –– are a very common tactic employed by the batterer.
The existence of emotional and verbal abuse, attempts to isolate, and threats and intimidation within a relationship may be an indication that physical abuse is to follow. Even if they are not accompanied by physical abuse, the effect of these incidents must not be minimized. Many of the resources listed in this book have information available for people who are involved with an emotionally abusive intimate partner.
Who Are the Victims?
Women were attacked about six times more often by offenders with whom they had an intimate relationship than were male violence victims.
Nearly 30 percent of all female homicide victims were known to have been killed by their husbands, former husbands or boyfriends.
In contrast, just over 3 percent of male homicide victims were known to have been killed by their wives, former wives or girlfriends.
Husbands, former husbands, boyfriends and ex–boyfriends committed more than one million violent acts against women.
Family members or other people they knew committed more than 2.7 million violent crimes against women.
Husbands, former husbands, boyfriends and ex–boyfriends committed 26 percent of rapes and sexual assaults.
Forty–five percent of all violent attacks against female victims 12 years old and older by multiple offenders involve offenders they know.
The rate of intimate–offender attacks on women separated from their husbands was about three times higher than that of divorced women and about 25 times higher than that of married women.
Women of all races were equally vulnerable to attacks by intimates.
Female victims of violence were more likely to be injured when attacked by someone they knew than female victims of violence who were attacked by strangers.
What Can You Say to a Victim?
I'm afraid for your safety.
I'm afraid for the safety of your children.
It will only get worse.
We're here for you when you are ready or when you are able to leave.
You deserve better than this.
Let's figure out a safety plan for you.
What is a Safety Plan?
Every individual in an abusive relationship needs a safety plan. Shelters and crisis counselors have been urging safety plans for years, and police departments, victim services, hospitals, and courts have adopted this strategy. Safety plans should be individualized –– for example, taking account of age, marital status, whether children are involved, geographic location, and resources available –– but still contain common elements.
When Creating a Safety Plan
Think about all possible escape routes. Doors, first–floor windows, basement exits, elevators, stairwells. Rehearse if possible.
Choose a place to go. To the home of a friend or relative who will offer unconditional support, or a motel or hotel, or a shelter – most importantly somewhere you will feel safe.
Pack a survival kit. Money for cab fare, a change of clothes, extra house and car keys, birth certificates, passports, medications and copies of prescriptions, insurance information, checkbook, credit cards, legal documents such as separation agreements and protection orders, address books, and valuable jewelry, and papers that show jointly owned assets. Conceal it in the home or leave it with a trusted neighbor, friend, or relative. Important papers can also be left in a bank deposit box.
Try to start an individual savings account. Have statements sent to a trusted relative or friend.
Avoid arguments with the abuser in areas with potential weapons. Kitchen, garage, or in small spaces without access to an outside door.
Know the telephone number of the domestic violence hotline.
Contact it for information on resources and legal rights.
Review the safety plan monthly.
Myths About Family Violence
Myth: Family violence is rare...
Although statistics on family violence are not precise, it's clear that millions of children, women and even men are abused physically by family members and other intimates.
Myth: Family violence is confined to the lower classes...
Reports from police records, victim services, and academic studies show domestic violence exists equally in every socioeconomic group, regardless of race or culture.
Myth: Battered wives like being hit, otherwise they would leave...
The most common response to battering–– “Why doesn't she just leave?”–– ignores economic and social realities facing many women. Shelters are often full, and family, friends, and the workplace are frequently less than fully supportive. Faced with rent and utility deposits, day care, health insurance, and other basic expenses, the woman may feel that she cannot support herself and her children. Moreover, in some instances, the woman may be increasing the chance of physical harm or even death if she leaves an abusive spouse.
What Can Each of Us Do?
Call the police if you see or hear evidence of domestic violence.
Speak out publicly against domestic violence.
Take action personally against domestic violence when a neighbor, a co–worker, a friend, or a family member is involved or being abused.
Encourage your neighborhood watch or block association to become as concerned with watching out for domestic violence as with burglaries and other crimes.
Reach out to support someone whom you believe is a victim of domestic violence and/or talk with a person you believe is being abusive.
Help others become informed, by inviting speakers to your church, professional organization, civic group, or workplace.
Support domestic violence counseling programs and shelters.
Call Cascade EAP for resources and information on where you can get help.
How to Use Your EAP
When help is needed call 1–800–433–2320 . The intake staff will ask for your name, employer and a brief description of your presenting concern. If an emergency exists you will be given immediate assistance. If your situation is not an emergency, you will be offered telephone assistance and/or in–person sessions to complete an assessment and make a referral for treatment if needed.
Meetings with your counselor are completely confidential. Your employer will not know you have used the EAP. No one will be provided any information about you without your written consent. Exceptions would occur only in the event of you being considered dangerous to yourself or someone else.
At the first appointment you should be prepared to give the counselor some background information to assist in formulating an action plan. Many people find it helpful to prepare a list of things they wish to discuss at each session.