Domestic violence does not discriminate

Hailey Griffin, Arts Editor

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National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is held in October to recognize victims of domestic violence and help spread awareness. Participants wear purple ribbons to show their support towards the fight against domestic violence. Statistics prove that domestic violence does not discriminate; it affects couples of all ages, races, religions, economic statuses, and sexual orientations. 

Abuse within romantic relationships can take many forms, whether it be verbal, physical, or sexual. Physical abuse is defined by assaultive behaviors like pushing, hitting, or choking. According to the U.S Department Justice System, “1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year.”

Manipulative behaviors such as gas-lighting (causing one to question their perception of reality), demeaning, constant criticizing, or intimidation define verbal abuse. Verbal abuse can mentally debilitate victims, and seriously warp their self-esteem.

Sexual abuse consists of any types of unwanted sexual advances. Another figure from the U.S Department Justice System shows that “between 40 and 45 percent of women with abusive partners are sexually assaulted by their abuser during the course of their relationship.” A 2019 American Association of Universities survey reports that “26.1 percent of female under-graduate students at UW-Madison reported having experienced some form of sexual assault.”

Often, people are hesitant to address domestic violence because they believe in the “fine line” between argumentative behavior and abusive behavior. Warning signs of an abusive partner include: exhibiting extreme jealousy towards friends and family, controlling where you go or who you see, preventing you from making your own choices, or pressuring you to do things you are uncomfortable with.

Witnesses to abusive behavior can easily recognize maltreatment; victims of abusive behavior have difficulty recognizing abusive behavior. Many victims ignore abusive tendencies in an attempt to rationalize maltreatment. Abusers, as well as victims, come up with ways to rationalize their actions. Justification of maltreatment on both sides of an abusive relationship contributes to a vicious cycle of domestic abuse.

Long-term effects on victims of domestic violence include: low self-esteem, trust issues, post traumatic stress disorder, physical disability, or depression. Many victims of domestic violence have difficulty coping with their trauma. Failure to develop healthy coping mechanisms can severely impact an individual’s ability to function in society. There are communities, support groups and movements that are dedicated to assisting those who have been affected by domestic violence.

Prominent domestic violence organizations include American Bar Association and The Center for Survivor Agency and Justice. Each of these agencies provide legal representation and a support system for victims of domestic violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233 is available 24/7, and provides “crisis intervention, referrals to battered women’s shelters and programs, social-service agencies, legal programs, and other groups and organizations willing to help.”