October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic abuse is a topic that hits close to home for so many of us. So, to help spread awareness, foster healing for survivors, and create a safe place for hard conversations, let’s talk about it. Starting with 5 domestic violence statistics everyone should know about:
#1- It is not what it looks like.
If you are looking for someone to have unexplained bruises on their body or a black eye, you are not looking hard enough. Victims of domestic violence hide in plain sight. They sit beside you in church, go to the same school functions you attend, and sometimes live right next door. They don’t look like victims.
They don’t all have bruises and scars on their bodies that you can see. Many have scars on their minds and hearts and souls that no one could see from the outside – unless you knew what to look for. Victims of emotional, psychological, and verbal abuse are the hardest to identify if you are only looking for obvious signs.
#2- Domestic violence is an epidemic.
A woman is beaten every nine seconds in the United States.
Here’s some perspective on that number… that is 4,774,000 women a year.
“The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war.”The Huffington Post article, “30 Shocking Domestic Violence Statistics…”:
#3-Domestic violence has far-reaching consequences for society.
In the same article, they report that 18 million people require mental health visits as a direct result of intimate partner violence every year. And, there are 8 million days of paid work women lose out on every year because of abuse perpetrated on them. That is the equivalent of losing 32,000 full-time jobs.
#4- The Real Reason they stay
It’s always shocking when you find out someone you know, and love has been the victim of domestic violence. One of the first questions people often ask is, “Why didn’t they leave sooner?” The #1 reason they stayed…Financial abuse. In fact, it’s reported that 98% of domestic violence cases include some form of financial abuse.
If the abuser controls the money supply, they cut off the resources for anyone to leave. It is because of this that many women and children who escape abusive relationships end up homeless. This is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.
#5- They won’t report it.
The numbers are staggering. But the most painful number for me is this one… only 25% of women who have experienced domestic violence and intimate partner violence will report it. Of the almost 5 million women who experience violence in their homes, only about 1 million will find the courage to report it. Why? The reasons are as varied as the women involved but some major themes play into many cases where a woman declines to report it and/or stays with her abuser:
- Shame to have others know the truth;
- Wanting to protect the batterer (she loves him after all);
- Belief that he will change or the behavior is justified (e.g., “He drank too much,” “He doesn’t actually hit me,” etc.) ;
- Fear of the questioning and not being believed by the police or authorities;
- Fear of retaliation against her, or the children, from her partner; and
- Fear of losing custody of her children.
Domestic abuse is a topic that hits close to home for all of us.
Whether it’s taking place within the walls of our own home or the walls of our sister’s, best friend’s, or neighbor’s home. It has to stop. It’s an epidemic of silence; and, you stop an epidemic of silence by talking about it.
With grace and grit,
If you are someone you know needs to leave an abusive marriage please contact your local resource center or call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. If you are in the Bismarck/Mandan area contact the Abused Adult Resource Center
Image: A red handprint across the mouth has become a symbolic representation of violence that affects Indigenous women across Canada, the United States and beyond.
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