Domestic Violence

Recognizing the Signs
Domestic violence is a common problem that does not get as much attention as is needed. It has been estimated that 30-40 percent of injuries that cause women to visit the emergency room are a result of domestic violence. Abuse runs through relationships of all socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities. Battery and rape are two common forms of abuse. Battery is a pattern of behavior that results in a man establishing power over a woman through fear and intimidation. Battery usually occurs when men believe that they are entitled to control their partners, and it usually continues because the women in these relationships end up believing this as well.

Most men that batter women share some similar characteristics. They generally tend to be insecure, frustrated, jealous, possessive, switch from periods of abuse to periods of affection. There is a dominant cycle of abuse that exists, despite the many variant factors within relationships. The abusive cycle contains three parts:

  • A build up of tension that may include minor violence, verbal abuse, hitting or destroying objects, or giving you the silent treatment.
  • An explosion of violence, such as punching, kicking, choking, or assault with weapons.
  • A feeling of remorse, in which he begs forgiveness and promises never to do it again. Usually he will be kind and considerate until the tension builds up again.

Are you in an abusive relationship? Look at our warning signs to help determine whether you are or not.

Dealing with Domestic Violence
It is often difficult for women to get out of an abusive relationship, because of fear, economic dependence, or lack of support from friends and family. Some other reasons are:

  • They have been convinced that they cannot make it on their own.
  • They are torn between feelings of love and anger.
  • Their lives or those of their children have been threatened.
  • They are dependent on their partners and see nowhere to run.
  • They believe their partner, though abusive, cannot survive without them.

Options for Battered/Abused Women
If you are in an abusive relationship, odds are that you will be beaten when you are pregnant as well. Pregnant abused women suffer from emotional stress, have less prenatal care, and often do not follow the proper nutritional guidelines. Physical abuse may lead to injuries to the fetus or it may aggravate chronic illnesses that lead to decreased fetal growth or premature birth. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, some form of action should be taken, for your sake and for any children that may be involved. You can:

  • Press charges. Physical assault is against the law.
  • If your husband or lover hits you, try to defend yourself, pay special attention to protecting your stomach and your head.
  • Call for help, scream, and if you can get away, run.
  • Fight back, only if you think it will not make him hurt you more.
  • Document the abuse by taking pictures or telling someone, a friend, neighbor, or the police. If you contact the police, make sure you get a copy of the report.
  • Have a personal safety plan. Shelters for battered women are now available in many communities. Plan possible destinations and keep money available if necessary. Have some clothes and necessities packed, and always plan for the children as well.

Getting Help
Here are some places where you can turn to for help. Remember that you are not the only one in this situation, and that no one deserves to be abused.

National 24-hour hotline (202) 232-6682

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 18749
Denver, CO 80218-0749
(303) 839-1852

National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women
137 S. 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 351-0010

You can also receive help from your local YWCA chapter.

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