Domestic violence is an ongoing pattern of behaviors and abusive tactics used by an intimate partner or ex-partner to gain complete power and control over a person’s life. Domestic violence is not an isolated, single event but rather a pattern of repeated behaviors and actions. Assaults are often repeated against the same victim by the same offender. These assaults occur in different forms, including mental, emotional, physical, sexual, psychological and economic. While physical and sexual assaults might not occur often, other parts of the pattern can occur daily. The use of these other tactics is effective because one battering episode builds on past episodes and sets the stage for future episodes. All tactics of the pattern interact and have profound effects on the victim.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, please contact your local crisis intervention center for assistance. For a full list of local crisis intervention centers, click here.
1. Become informed – Learn more about domestic violence by contacting the crisis intervention center in your community and guide the victim to these services.
2. Lend a sympathetic ear – Offer support and be willing to listen and believe what someone is telling you.
3. Remind them the violence is not their fault – The abuser is the one responsible for their own behavior.
4. Help them develop a safety plan – Encourage the victim to develop a plan to protect themselves, and their children, if their partner becomes abusive again. Become a part of the victim’s safety plan.
5. Know when to intervene – Domestic violence is a crime, and if you know that it is occurring, call the police immediately.
Even if children are not directly involved in domestic violence in the home, there are significant effects on children living in homes where domestic violence is occurring. These children may be affected at different levels depending on how much violence they may have experienced. Some of the reactions of children experiencing domestic violence are:
• Terror – Living in fear the abuse will happen again, causing hypervigilance or a feeling of being “on guard” all the time.
• Rage – Feeling extreme anger toward the abusive parent as well as anger about not being protected.
• Divided Loyalties – Lying to teachers or other authority figures to protect their family, creating feelings of shame and isolation.
• Emotional Withdrawal – Having trouble forming friendships and other relationships due to low self-esteem and anxiety.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Every year there are events across the country to educate and bring awareness to issues surrounding domestic violence.