“Trauma may happen to you, but it can never define you.” ― Melinda Longtin
Home is a safe haven for some, but others may see their home as a war zone filled with trauma, fear, and pain. This month of Domestic Violence Awareness is a time to recognize the impact and reach of this issue, identifying symptoms of abuse and understanding ways to support survivors. Each year, 10 million people are physically abused by their partner in the United States. COVID-19 forced many families indoors, which likely lead to more risks of domestic violence in the home. Data shows that major cities within California saw an increase in reported domestic violence during the pandemic.
What is Domestic Violence?
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), domestic violence is the “willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.” (Fact Sheet NCADV). Domestic Violence can take on many forms, such as physical, emotional, and financial abuse. While women have a higher occurrence of DV (1 in 3 women), 1 in 4 men have been a victim of some form of physical violence with their partner within their lifetime, according to the NCADV.
While domestic violence impacts individuals across all genders, sexual orientation, races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds, culture can also influence how domestic violence is experienced and reacted to. Due to structural issues by minoritized communities, access to education, healthcare, and lack of community support, can impact the way in which domestic violence shows up in everyone’s life. This year’s theme for Domestic Violence Awareness Month is “Everyone Knows Someone”. That is because many instances of intimate partner abuse are kept secret, hidden from friends, family, and coworkers. Regardless of class, race, or age, domestic violence could be experienced by anyone, but it is also of the essence to understand that identities can impact people’s lived experiences. That is why it is important to get help from someone who connects to you.
How does Domestic Violence affect children?
Seeing violence in the home can have lasting effects on children, as well. Data shows 1 in 3 children who witness intimate partner violence were also child abuse victims. Children who see their parents abused can become depressed and withdrawn. Children who experience or witness violence in the home include “generalized anxiety, sleeplessness, aggression, difficulty concentrating, nightmares, high levels of activity, and separation anxiety.” Because they are a witness to a hostile home, children are more likely to start and continue abuse in their own adult relationships.
What are some signs of Domestic Violence?
Some of the warning signs of an abuser according to NCADV can include the following:
- Extreme jealousy and/or a bad temper
- Unpredictable mood changes or actions
- Verbal abuse and extremely controlling behavior
- Outdated beliefs about the roles of women, men, or people in relationships
- Blaming the victim for anything bad that happens
- Controls all the finances and/or doesn’t allow the victim to go to work or school
- Abuse of other family members, children or pets
- Accuses the victim of flirting with others or having an affair
“Never forget that walking away from something unhealthy is brave even if you stumble a little on your way out the door.” ― Unknown
How can I be an ally to Domestic Violence survivors?
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence suggests:
- Be there for the survivor: do not judge.
- Become their supporter.
- Let them know this is not their fault and that everyone deserves a healthy relationship.
- Assist the survivor in creating a safety plan.
- If they leave, do not disclose their location.
A safety plan consists of actions meant to protect those who are trying to leave a domestic violence situation. It includes information on what to do before and during an attack, how to leave, and how to be safe once the victim is on their own. There are many online resources to access to assist someone in making a safety plan. Please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline at https://www.thehotline.org/ for more information.
How can I get help?
Leaving a Domestic Violence situation can be just as dangerous as staying. In fact, many victims of abuse report that they were scared to leave due to fear of violence, losing custody of their children, lack of support in their local community, religious beliefs, not having the money to leave or a place stay, inability to reach their friends and family, and other reasons. It’s important to note that there are several risk factors when planning to leave; the risk of homicide increasing for both men and women in violent situations (Campbell, 2019).
For anonymous help now, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). You can also text “START” to 88788. If you would like to complete a Danger Assessment to determine the level of danger you may be in, please visit The Danger Assessment website at https://www.dangerassessment.org/da.aspx. We also have provided a list of local resources in the Antelope, San Fernando, and Santa Clarita Valleys, and San Bernardino and Los Angeles County here. If you are undocumented or have a temporary legal status and a victim of domestic violence with children, apply for immigration status confidentially under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Please visit https://dpss.lacounty.gov/en/jobs/gain/sss/domestic-violence/vawa.html for more information.
“Someone once asked me how I hold my head up so high after all I have been through. I said it’s because no matter what, I am a survivor, not a victim.” — Patricia Buckley