25 June 2008

Be an advocate

Nearly one-third of women in the United States report some kind of abuse by a partner in the last year.  This number is likely extremely low due to the victim mentality that is associated with abusive relationships.  Many victims are too afraid to come forward and expose their abusers due to psychological reasons beyond their control.  In fact, many psychologists relate the mentality of a domestic violence victim to "Stockholm's Syndrome", which occurs when a victim/captive develops a feeling of love or support for their abuser/captor.

Would you be able to recognize a domestic violence situation?  

  • Bruises (sometimes small, finger-shaped bruises) on upper arms, legs, neck, face, etc.
  • Repeated and frequent phone calls from partner
  • Mentions of partner's anger
  • Missed work
  • Personality changes
  • Isolation from friends or family

Stranger or neighbor:
  • Visibly aggressive arguments
  • Cowering or fleeing female
  • Loud yelling or screaming
  • Thuds, screams, or yelling coming from a neighbor's house
  • Isolation of certain family members from the rest of the neighborhood

  • Controlling partner
  • Accusations of infidelity without cause
  • Partner telling you that you are "crazy"
  • Partner controlling the finances
  • Partner blames anger on drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent and repeated phone calls from partner
  • Constantly having to account for whereabouts
  • Hitting, slapping, beating
  • Yelling, screaming, verbally attacking
  • Partner grabbing arms or legs to cause pain
  • Partner threatens suicide or self-inflicts to control you
  • Partner hurts animals, threatens to hurt or kill friends and family if you leave him or her

If someone you know might be in an abusive relationship:
Be aware, document things that you notice, observe the situation.  Even if you are still unsure, try to approach them about it.  Do so when you are alone and free from the embarrassment of disclosure in front of individuals.  If they deny it, continue to "be there" and available - let them know that they can call you anytime, day or night, if they need anything.  Let them know they are not judged.  Give them the national safe number 1.800.799.SAFE

If a stranger or neighbor might be in abusive relationship or domestic confrontation:
DON'T HESITATE - CALL THE POLICE.  They will not know who called, nor should you feel guilty about bringing the police into the situation.  Sometimes all a victim needs is intervention to have the strength to leave.

If you are in an abusive relationship: 
Call the National Safe Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE.  It's anonymous.  They can give you local numbers to seek help.  Get counseling.  When are you are ready, turn to family and friends. They will love you and support you.

...but, really, the most important message is: be an advocate.  Spread the word.  Stop domestic violence.

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