Along with the trees turning lovely shades of yellow and Fall Break, October also marks the kick off of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In the United States, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some sort of physical abuse by an intimate partner. And on average, about 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. This results in over 10 million women and men becoming victims of domestic violence per year. Of the millions of female victims, the largest age group of victims is between the ages of 18-24.
So, some of you may be wondering, what is Domestic Violence? According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence can be defined as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as a part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.” Domestic violence is not just physical violence. It can also be used to refer to sexual violence, psychological violence and emotional abuse.
In the early stages of a relationship, the abuser may seem perfect. But abuse always intensifies over time and the person may start to act possessive and controlling. Some red flags include your partner constantly keeping tabs on your every move, pressuring you to do things you do not want to do (sex, drugs, alcohol, etc.), deciding for you and destroying the things you care about. More red flags can be found here and here.
Things to know about domestic abuse is that it is never the victim’s fault. No one deserves to experience violence. Other things to understand is that domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. Regardless of racial, economic or social background, domestic violence can happen. Another large misconception about domestic violence is that if someone becomes the victim of abuse, they should just leave. However, it is never that simple. Some of the many reasons why victims stay in the relationship is because they are scared of how their partner will react, embarrassment or they hope their partner will change. Many times, when a victim leaves their abuser, the abuse does not stop.
If you know someone who is currently in an abusive relationship, here are some ways you can offer support:
- Be supportive and listen
- Do not judge
- Be patient
- Encourage them to participate in activities outside of their abusive relationship
- Encourage them to talk to people who can provide them help and guidance
- Remind them that the abuse is not their fault
- A full list of things you can do can be found here.
There are many resources available nationally for victims of domestic violence as well as for people who want to learn more about it. Here is a short list of national resources:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)
- National Dating Abuse Helpline 1-866-331-9474, www.loveisrespect.org
- Natoinal Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE), www.rainn.org
And here’s the short list of St. Olaf-area resources:
- Sexual Assault Resource Network (SARN)
- In-Office Advocates are available for confidential conversations Monday-Friday, during chapel and community time and Tuesdays 7-8pm. They are located in Buntrock Commons Room 113
- Phone: Advocates are on call nightly from 8pm to 8am during the academic year at 507-786-3777 (#3777)
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- HOPE Center located in Faribault, Minnesota
- 24/7 Safeline: 1-800-607-2330
Some upcoming events on campus sponsored by SARN
- Wednesday, October 5, 2016: Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kickoff, 11am-1pm and 5-8pm at table by caf stairs
- Monday, October 10, 2016: Bae Goals, 11am-1pm at table by the caf stairs
- Thursday, October 13, 2016: Self-Defense Workshop, 7-9pm in the Black Ballroom
- Wednesday, October 19, 2016: Yoga for Healing, 7-9pm
So, let’s take this October to better inform ourselves about domestic violence and take a stand.