Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Well, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month as all of you know.  That was a joke.  I knew it, but had to Google it to see if I hadn’t imagined it, as I have seen absolutely no evidence of a PR awareness campaign going on this month.  Well, there is one, for breast cancer awareness, and if I had anything to add to that, I most certainly would.  I thought that if I wrote about Domestic Violence this month, I would be joining my voice with many others, but right now, I feel like I’m the only one at this party.  That’s OK.  Ultimately, that’s one of the reasons why I blog.

Do you know what does bother me about DV (lack of) awareness?  I feel like awareness of this issue is very often tied to fundraising efforts for the organizations that respond to DV in the community.  And those folks absolutely need money, and more of it.  But the problem is that what you tell people when you are asking them to give you money is not the same thing you would tell them if you just wanted to educate them about an issue.  So,  keep your money in your pocket as I tell you what I wish more people knew about Domestic Violence.

First of all, DV isn’t only for adult  married heterosexual couples.  It can involve young people (Teen Dating Violence is its own subject, but related) or same-sex couples or people who live together without having a romantic relationship, like parents and their adult children.

DV isn’t only about hitting people.  It can involve  physical violence, or it can involve sexual violence, emotional abuse or destruction of property and pets.  In many cases, it involves all or at least a few of the above.  Emotional violence is still violence.  Many people have a hard time with that (I used to be one of them).  But someone who is “only” being emotionally abused is still in an abusive relationship and needs help and sympathy.  If you are unsure of the definition of emotional abuse, HERE is a link to a site that I feel explains it very well.

Relationship violence can be sexual in nature.  It can involve openly forcing the partner to have sex, or it can be (a bit) more subtle.  It can be pressuring the partner into having sex in ways that are unpleasant or degrading to her.  Sometimes other people are involved, against the partner’s wishes.  What that means in English is forcing the partner to swing.  Sexual abuse encompasses all kinds of unwanted touching, so the abuser may not openly force sex, but may force foreplay on their partner, which has the effect of forcing sex.

Abuse can also involve destruction of personal property or pets.  I would have categorized this under emotional abuse, because I think that’s what it is, but I am following the way that I was taught.  What this means is the partner  knowingly, deliberately destroys, ruins or throws away the victim’s cherished personal belongings.  Or the abuser may harm or threaten to harm her pets.  If I remember correctly, that last one is a sign that the situation is quite dangerous.

Speaking of which, DV exists on a continuum, from mild (if that’s the right word) to extremely dangerous.  When people act as though it should be no big deal for a woman to leave an abusive partner, they often cite as an example someone they know who left an abusive partner with a minimum of help from her friends and was OK.  They then, illogically, generalize this to mean that ALL women who are being abused can just up and walk away and be safe.  The truth is these stories are true.  Some victims can and do walk away easily and their abusers let them go.  I’ve done it.   But that absolutely does not mean that every victim can walk away safely.  If you are in a violent situation or have a friend who is and you and they are prepared to leave it, call your local Domestic Violence agency.  They can help you evaluate the level of danger and what actions the victim can take to protect herself.  And remember, the question of whether the abuser loves the victim is completely irrelevant.  Just because he loves her doesn’t mean he won’t try to kill her.

DV is about Power and Control.   Abusers put a lot of effort into making victims believe that all the things they do, like keeping them from working or going to school, buying them extravagant gifts, pressuring them into sex and into commitment too fast, etc, are done out of love.  And it can look that way to outsiders as well.  Abusers always or nearly always have very low self-esteem.  They use these techniques to keep their partners from meeting potential new love interests, and to make things up to them when they have behaved badly.  Yes, abuse really does stem from fear.  If abusers are so afraid their partners will walk out on them, why don’t they just treat them better?  Why not indeed?

Here is a link to the Wheel of Domestic Violence, which illustrates it all very well.  I’d reproduce it here if I could figure out how (and quickly).

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. akarmin
    Oct 05, 2011 @ 10:08:58

    Many women come in to counseling wanting an answer to the question, “Why did I pass up a perfectly nice boyfriend to marry someone who is so difficult to live with and who makes me so unhappy?” The answer often turns out to be that the woman is not compatible with nice boys who will respect her and make her happy. If she has come to feel inferior and inadequate as a woman, she does not feel worthy of happiness or positive compatibility. She does not deserve someone who treats her with more respect than her parents and siblings did. It would be inconsistent with her identity. Such inconsistency sets up a painful conflict. She will resolve such conflicts using her expectations from the past. She will not even realize what she has done or why. Such a woman is negatively compatible with someone who will give her a hard time and break her heart and her spirit. In this way, she will maintain and perpetuate her past roles into the future.

    Reply

  2. goodnightgram
    Oct 07, 2011 @ 08:19:05

    Thank you for your post about Domestic Violence. If you are still interested in getting the Wheel of Violence image to your page, I wanted to offer two ways to do it. You can go to the site with the wheel, put your mouse over the image, right click. At that point you can click ‘Copy’ and then go back to where you want to put the image, right click and then click on the word ‘Paste.’ Another way would be to go to the site where the wheel is, put your mouse over the image, right click, and then click on ‘Save As’. That will save the image to your computer, flash drive, etc. Then go back to the spot in your post where you want to insert the wheel, and using the ‘upload/insert buttons just about the area where you type your message, click on the leftmost button. It looks rectangular, with a white frame and gray interior. That will insert the image you’ve saved.

    With either method, you should cite the sourcewebsite of the Wheel of violence. Hope this helps.

    G.G.

    Reply

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