In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it is important to be aware of the violence that is happening right under our noses— that is, domestic violence. Domestic violence is defined as any verbal, physical, emotional, psychological or sexual abuse between intimate partners. According to Laurel House, a Montgomery County domestic violence agency, domestic violence is an “equal opportunity offender.” “It can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender.” It is real, it is here and it is more prevalent than one would think.
When one thinks of domestic violence, the first thing that usually comes to mind is physical or sexual violence. However, domestic violence has many other, lesser known components that victims suffer through as well. The Power and Control Wheel, pictured below, illustrates some of the other dangers of domestic violence, including coercion and threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimizing, denying and blaming, using children, economic abuse and male privilege. Any combination of these factors, or any factor alone, can be considered an act of domestic violence.
Domestic violence often goes unnoticed by others or unacted upon because to the outside world, it is not always easy to recognize. Yet, it is all around us. According to Laurel House, “1 in 5 students who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a boyfriend or girlfriend.” And this is physical violence alone. There are still many other domestic violence relationships that are happening where the abuse is emotional or psychological, but not physical.
Starting this month, be aware of the signs of domestic violence in your relationship and in the relationships of others. Don’t hesitate to help a friend in need who is a victim of domestic violence. Simply staying on the lookout for possible signs of domestic violence can be more helpful to others than you might realize.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please contact Laurel House at: 1-800-642-3150
Image: The Laurel House