An inquiry this morning from a prospective client served as a grim reminder that many victims of domestic violence feel powerless to protect themselves or are too fearful to consider leaving. While men seem to be the silent minority of victims, statistics still show that the majority of victims in abusive relationships are women. We know that domestic violence occurs in all types of relationships, including same sex partnerships, and becomes especially dangerous when parties are residing together and the abuser can exert more control. Physical violence is only one type of abuse, with most abusers following a pattern which begins with intimidation, blaming and controlling behaviors. Abusers isolate their victims from family and friends and use financial control to further restrict a victim’s freedom. Experts have created “The Power and Control Wheel” which explains tactics abusers use, often before escalating to physical or sexual violence. This is in starkt contrast to “The Equality Wheel” which describes aspects of healthy relationships based upon respect, trust and support. Because the pattern of abuse can develop over time, some victims are less aware of the telltale signs. Education and information about the difference between a healthy, equal partnership and the warning signs of an abusive relationship are essential to protect potential victims.
Misconceptions and false information about abuse continue to hamper efforts to address it and assist victims. Abuse is found at all socio-economic levels and among all age groups. Domestic abuse is a serious problem in the abusive person’s behavior. While drugs, stress, poverty and other issues may aggravate circumstances, they are NOT the causes. Abuse is NOT caused by anything said or done by the person being abused. Violence against children or in the presence of children puts them at risk for long-term behavioral and mental-health issues. The US Advisory Board on Child Abuse indicates that domestic violence may be the single major precursor to child abuse and neglect. Abuse affects everyone, and we all know someone who has been a victim.
If you or someone you know is being abused, contact resources and assistance programs to develop a Safety Plan. In Indiana, contact the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence at 1-800-332-7385. PREVAIL, Inc. provides resources in Hamilton County: 317-773-6942. In Marion County, call the Julian Center at 317-941-2200. Identify legal services and shelters and seek out information on websites such as National Domestic Violence Hotline at http://www.ndvh.org.
Learn what you can do to prevent domestic abuse in the greater Indianapolis area. Visit: http://www.violenceresource.org.