A woman is battered in the US every 15 seconds. This refers to physical abuse – and does not even include the ongoing emotional abuse that victims of domestic violence suffer regularly every day. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women will be abused at some time during her life. Eighty-five percent of domestic abuse occurs to women.
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior which establishes power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat of violence. Not all domestic violence is physical. It can also be emotional abuse, psychological intimidation, threats, verbal abuse, stalking, isolation, and/or economic control.
Domestic violence completely changes the family dynamic, affecting every relationship that each member of the family has with each other, and with the outside world, in ways that are difficult for many to comprehend. Often, domestic violence offenders attempt to isolate their partners from friends and family in an effort to reduce outside influences. Victims of domestic violence – and their children – know that they are not to talk about what happens at home – or there will be hell to pay.
Domestic violence is not marital conflict. When we talk with kids, we talk about the difference between people having a disagreement with each other and one person actually abusing the other person. Even when parents don’t think their kids hear what is going on, they do. In roughly half of the domestic violence cases where law enforcement is called, children are present, and what they tell law enforcement officers lets us know that they do know what is going on.
Victims and their children who witness domestic violence may exhibit what we on the outside think are unusual and puzzling behaviors. They may be quite withdrawn – probably in an effort to avoid contact with others that they think may jeopardize their safety. Although we may have no clue, for them, domestic violence is the elephant in the room that they see but we don’t. Children may appear easily frustrated, have poor social skills, and actually be violent to others. When you think about what they have seen, these behaviors don’t seem unusual at all. Victims of domestic violence are not always sweet, shy, demure and retiring. We know that sometimes by the time a law enforcement officer shows up, it may be hard to tell who the victim is and who the aggressor is. By that time, the victim switches to a different kind of survival mode – taking the blame herself so that she doesn’t get in worse trouble later on with her abuser; or yelling or otherwise being abusive to an offender when the police arrive because now it’s safe to do so.
So what can you do? Tell her it’s not her fault. Do not blame the victim. Listen to her. Don’t take her anger personally. Help her get help.
Thank you Cope Inc.