Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We used to think of domestic violence as a family issue. Fortunately, this is no longer the case; we now understand how domestic abuse affects everyone in the community.
Sadly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence is on the rise. Economic insecurity, stress, and isolation are all situations that increase the likelihood of violence within families. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also limited victims’ ability to reach out to friends and family for help.
As a community, we can band together to help victims and survivors of domestic abuse heal so they can rebuild their lives. But before we can do this, we need to understand what domestic violence is.
What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse. Instead, domestic violence is any behavior that tries to control, submit, intimidate, and harm a spouse or partner. While most domestic abuse victims are women, men also experience this time of violence.
The Reality of Domestic Violence in America
- More than 10 million Americans suffer domestic violence a year. This means every minute, nearly 20 people are physically abused by their intimate partner
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men say they’ve experienced some form of physical violence from their sentimental partners within their lifetime
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men report being victims of severe violence by a current or ex intimate partner in their lifetime
- 1 in 7 women and 1 in 8 men say they have been victims of stalking during their lifetime
- During the pandemic, domestic violence calls spiked in Texas, according to a report by TexasMontly. And per data from the Gun Violence Archives, domestic violence-related shootings are up 69% in our home state.
Recognizing the Red Flags of Domestic Violence
Nobody willingly enters an abusive relationship. In fact, many miss the warning signs that their partner may turn violent or controlling.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline lists these red flags to look out for. The following are a few of the warning signs that your partner may be an abuser.
- Says things to embarrass you or put down either in public or at home
- Looks at you or acts in ways that make you uncomfortable and scared
- Controls whom you see and talk to, where you go and what you do
- They Prevent or discourage you from seeing your friends and family
- They take your money or refuse to give you cash for expenses
- They make decisions for you and prevent you from making your own
- Accuse of being a bad parent or threaten to harm or take the children away from you
- They won’t let you work or attend school
- They blame you for the violence, or they deny the abuse is happening
- They damage or destroy your property or threaten to hurt or kill your friends, family, or pets
- They threaten or intimidate you with weapons such as guns or knives
- They become physically abusive. This behavior may include shoving, slapping, choking, or hitting you
- They try to stop you from calling the police and pressing charges
- Tell you they will commit suicide because of something you’ve done or if you leave them
- Pressuring or forcing you to have sex when you don’t want to or doing sexual acts you are not comfortable with
- Pressuring you to take drugs or drink alcohol
- Stopping you from using birth control, refusing to use condoms, or pressuring you to become pregnant
When to Go to the ER
Domestic violence-related injuries can sometimes be severe enough to warrant a trip to the ER.
Please come to the ER if you suffer any of these injuries:
- Loss of consciousness
- Broken bone
- Bleeding that won’t stop
- Chest pain
- Severe headache or migraines
- Sprains or strains
- Abdominal pain
- Sexual assault
- Vaginal bleeding or tearing
- Anal bleeding or tearing
- Alcohol poisoning
- Drug overdose
Where to Get Help
If you are a victim of domestic violence, please know that help is available. Please reach out to any of the following organizations:
National Domestic Violence Hotline – https://www.thehotline.org/
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) – https://ncadv.org/get-help
Family Crisis Center of East Texas – https://www.familycrisiscenterofeasttexas.com/