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Help is available for domestic violence victims

October is domestic violence awareness month. Domestic violence — also called intimate partner violence, domestic abuse or relationship abuse — is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of domestic violence/abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship.

Several forms of domestic violence abuse include:

Physical abuse, which can include hitting, biting, slapping, battering, shoving, punching, pulling hair, burning, cutting, pinching, etc. (any type of violent behavior inflicted on the victim). Physical abuse also includes denying someone medical treatment and forcing drug/alcohol use on someone.

Sexual abuse occurs when the abuser persuades or attempts to persuade the victim into having sexual contact or sexual behavior without the victim’s consent.

Emotional abuse involves invalidating or deflating the victim’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. Emotional abuse often takes the form of constant criticism, name-calling, injuring the victim’s relationship with his/her children, or interfering with the victim’s abilities.

Economic abuse happens when the abuser makes or tries to make the victim financially reliant or to depend on them. Economic abusers seek to maintain total control over financial resources, withhold the victim’s access to funds, or prohibit the victim from going to school or work.

Psychological abuse is invoking fear through intimidation; threatening to physically hurt himself/herself, the victim, children, the victim’s family or friends, or the pets; destruction of property; injuring the pets; isolating the victim from loved ones; and prohibiting the victim from going to school or work.

Here are the facts:

• On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.

• One in four women and one in nine men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.

• One in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (slapping, shoving, pushing) and in some cases might not be considered “domestic violence.”

• One in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe physical violence (beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

• One in seven and one in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.

• On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.

• The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.

• Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.

• 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon.

• 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household.

• Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.

• It is estimated that up to 1 billion children aged 2–17 years, have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the past year.

If domestic violence or sexual assault is tearing your life apart, please call our crisis line: 601-442-0142 or 1-800-273-6938.

Whitney Houston-Irving is a case manager/training and prevention coordinator with Catholic Charities Guardian Victim Services. You may reach her at 601-442-0142.

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