October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. My office receives reports almost daily of women, children, and men who have suffered abuse at the hands of someone claiming to care about them. On average, three women are killed each day in the United States by a boyfriend or husband. And each year, women experience 2 million injuries from intimate partner violence.
It is estimated that 10-15 million children live in homes where violence has occurred at least once in the last year.
It can be hard to talk about domestic violence. But to prevent abuse, stop ongoing abuse, and to heal the abused, we need to work and talk as a community. Not so long ago, it was considered taboo to mention domestic violence in polite company. The topic was not appropriate for conversation, and suspected violence was spoken of in a hushed voice. In the silence of that time, abusers felt comfortable with their behaviors. This absolutely should not happen in today’s community.
Our words can be powerful. Please speak up and reach out if you hear that someone is a victim. Help is available in Rice County. If law enforcement is not contacted, victims can still call the HOPE Center at 507-332-0882. The HOPE Center’s 24-Hour SafeLine is 1-800-607-2330; their website is www.hopecentermn.org.
Initiate a conversation about abusive relationships – how to recognize them and how to prevent and stop them. Domestic violence is about one person using a pattern of abusive behaviors to control another person. It can take many forms: physical; emotional; sexual; and, financial. Abuse can happen to young and old alike; between partners in heterosexual, gay, or lesbian relationships; and between partners who are married, living together, separated, or dating.
There is often a pattern of behaviors in an abusive relationship. One theory describes this as the “cycle of abuse.” It can include:
Tension Building- the abuser starts to get angry; the victim feels the need to keep the abuser calm and “walks on egg shells.”
Acting Out – acts of domestic violence occur.
Making-Up – the abuser apologizes for the abuse and promises it won’t happen again; the abuser may blame the victim for what happened.
Calm – the abuser may act like the abuse never happened; the abuser may make promises or give gifts to the victim; the victim hopes that the abuse is over.
Unfortunately, the cycle continues.
Signs of an abusive partner include:
- pushing, hitting, choking, kicking, or biting
- threatening you, your children, or pets
- threatening suicide to gain your cooperation
- keeping your paycheck
- putting you down
- isolating you from friends, family or work.
If any of this sounds familiar, please evaluate your relationship. Seek help. If you are in immediate danger: call 911. Law enforcement officers can protect you and help you and your children leave your home safely. Law enforcement can gather evidence to be used in court. Please cooperate with them.
As a community, we must commit to supporting victims of abuse. Speak out and change attitudes. Everyone deserves to feel safe.