Article by Steffanie Strawbridge, LCSW-S
Get Our Purple On
October is National Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Month!
Often in October we see a lot of pink — pink ribbons, pink cleats on athletes and pink t-shirts. Most people know that the pink is for Breast Cancer Awareness, however October hosts another very important awareness month – Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence. Purple is the color that is used to represent this month and much like breast cancer, domestic violence is not an issue that only affects women, but men as well.
Domestic Violence versus Intimate Partner Violence
Often these phrases are used interchangeably; however, they are actually separate terms. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (https://ncadv.org/), “[d]omestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control”. Anyone living in the same household can be the perpetrator of domestic violence — spouse against spouse, parent against child, sibling against sibling, roommate against roommate. Intimate partner violence is that same systematic abusive behavior but done specifically against a romantic partner whether living in the same house or a different house.
Domestic Violence by the Numbers
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (https://ncadv.org/) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov):
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
- A (significant) majority of IPV related homicide victims are members of the LGBTQ community, with gay men accounting for 47.6% of IPV homicides and lesbians accounting for another 28.6%
- 41.2% of Black women and 36.3% of Black men have experienced intimate partner physical violence in their lifetimes.
- 53.8% of Black women and 56.1% of Black men have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetimes.
- Over 84% of Native American and Native Alaskan women experience DV/IPV violence during their lifetimes
- Nearly 20.9% of female high school students and 13.4% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
- 43% of dating college women reported experiencing violent or abusive behaviors from their partner
How Abusers Get Power and Control
While abusers’ tactics (physical attacks, stalking, verbal attacks, etc.) may look different, their grab for power and control often fall into 8 categories.
Emotional abuse: Putting another down and making them feel bad about themselves by calling names, harping on mistakes and/or pointing out what they see is flaws. Also making another feel like they are crazy or unstable, referred to as gaslighting.
Economic abuse: Keeping another from getting a job, getting another fired from their job, making another financially dependent on the abuser, making them turn over all their money to them, giving them an allowance.
Sexual abuse: Forcing someone to preform sexual acts that they are not comfortable with, physically hurting sexual parts of the partners body, treating the partner as a sexual object.
Using children: Making children give messages to the other parent, questioning children about other parents’ activities, harassing other parent during visitations (especially drop off/pick up).
Threats: threating to call child protective services on other parent, threatening to hurt/kill children or other person, threatening to commit suicide or self-harm.
Using Privilege: Treating partner as a servant, demanding to make all decisions in the family, being the “king/queen of the castle.”
Intimidation: Yelling, Loud voices, gestures, looks and destroying property to put fear in others.
Isolation: Keeping the other person from spending time with friends and family, telling them where they can go, who they can talk to.
Racial Issues in Domestic Violence
Unfortunately, people who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) are experiencing domestic violence at disproportionately higher rates. Due to policies, systems, and structures that are racist many of the supports that are in place for Caucasians seeking help leaving domestic violence are not available to the BIPOC population. This includes opportunities for economic advancement, health care, education and even being believed in a court of law. Many BIPOC domestic violence survivors are arrested when law enforcement is called in to domestic violence situations, adding barriers to get to safety and stay away from domestic violent situations.
Help is a phone call away
If you are in immediate danger, call 911 or if possible, leave the situation and go to a public place like a hospital, fire department, or police station where people are more trained to deal with dangerous situations. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1.800.799.7233. They can connect you with resources and shelters in your area.
- Tell at least one other person what is going on.
- Check in with that person every day. If they do not hear from you by a certain time, ask them to call the police for a welfare check.
- If this person lives in the same city/area you do, give them a copy of your car keys, important papers (birth certificates, court orders, passports etc.), a couple of outfits, a new pay as you go cell phone, and if possible, some cash.
- Open a bank account in just your name. On the day you are leaving, transfer money into your account – if you have access to the bank account. If you don’t try hiding away little bits of money while you are planning on leaving. Make sure it is hidden in a way that is safe for you. Having no money is better than bring on a violent incident with your abuser.
- If you have children, plan a safe place that everyone can meet at if the situation gets to be physically dangerous and create a code phrase that lets everyone know to go to the safe place.
- Make sure you (and your kids) know important numbers by heart and have them written down in a wallet (or backpack)
- On the day you leave, leave your cell phone and any other electronics that has GPS/Geotagging abilities. Check hand-held games to see if it can be tracked. If unsure, it is better to be safe and leave them behind.
- If you have a new car with a GPS located either leave the car or go to the dealership and see if they can turn it off.
- Remember this is one of the hardest things you will ever do, but there are resources who can help you. Reach out!