While awareness continues to grow, domestic violence is a subject that is still not talked about a great deal. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) experience some form of violence from a partner in their lifetime. We can hardly call this a “minor” problem. It is real. It is significant. It needs to stop.
The physical consequences are obvious and range from minor injury to death. The mental health consequences may not be as obvious. Domestic violence often results in a variety of mental health consequences for victims. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and even sexual dysfunction are some of the more common mental health problems associated with domestic violence. Also, it is important to know that children who witness domestic violence in their homes often experience these same mental health problems.
Why doesn’t she just leave?
If the answer to that question were simple, she probably would. There are a number of things that make this difficult. It may be fear that more, and more severe, violence will occur. It may be a sincere hope that things will get better. It may be the person is convinced it is somehow her fault. Then there’s the likelihood she is afraid she cannot make ends meet financially without the perpetrator. The possible reasons are endless.
When we ask such questions, what we’re really doing is blaming the victim for being victimized. This only continues to strengthen feelings of guilt, shame, confusion, self-blame, and weakness. No act of violence is the victim’s fault – ever. However, when we approach domestic violence in this way, that’s exactly what we do – blame victims for crimes committed against them.
Domestic violence victims need to be heard – not judged.
“Support” is a bit non-specific. What kinds of support do domestic violence sufferers need? First, they need to be heard and not judged. Be a friend. Being judgmental does nothing to help the victim and, in fact, makes things worse. Support may also come in the form of financial support, transportation, help reporting the abuse, child care, or any number of things. Remember, the goal of support is to help the individual – not tear them down even more.
The Nebraska Health and Human Services developed a useful resource for victims called the Breaking the Silence Handbook. In it, they give information to victims to help understand domestic violence, know their options, and take action. In WV, a list of agencies and groups to help victims of domestic violence can be found here.
Yes, it is difficult to ask for help. However, if you’re in a domestic violence situation, you also know it is most likely not getting any better. While you may hold on to hope, there will likely be another incident. If you want to be free from abuse, get help. If you are a friend or family member of someone in a domestic violence situation, offer help. Domestic violence can end for you and you can recover from the effects.
If we can be of assistance in either helping or assisting you in finding the type of help you need, please contact us. We would be happy to assist you.