October is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month and so there’s no better time to open up a discussion about domestic violence, the toll it can take on those who experience it, and what we can do in our homes and communities to stop it.
Here are some things you might not know about domestic violence:
1. It’s not only physical. Domestic violence can take many forms, including emotional abuse, sexual abuse, coercion, humiliation, financial control and more.
2. It can happen outside marriage, too. Any intimate relationship is susceptible to domestic violence, including those who are dating, cohabiting, married or even divorced.
3. It often goes unreported. Women with young children, those who are financially dependent on their abuser or just afraid or unsure they would be believed may choose to remain silent and hide the abuse or protect their abuser.
4. Men experience it, too. Although it affects mostly women, men can experience domestic abuse, too. So can anyone, regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation.
5. It can affect people outside the relationship. Children, parents, grandparents and friends can all feel the effects of domestic abuse when it happens to a loved one.
Remember that if you are experiencing domestic violence you are not to blame.
6. It happens to more women than you think. One in four women worldwide will experience domestic abuse in a lifetime. That means it’s happening to our mothers, grandmothers, sisters and friends.
7. Boys who witness it are more likely to abuse their partners as adults. They are also more likely to abuse their children if they view such an act.
8. It leads to depression. Women who are victims of domestic abuse are also more susceptible to suicidal behavior.
9. It’s the leading cause of injury to women. The incidences of abuse are greater than rape, car accidents and muggings, combined.
10. There is help. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call 911 or emergency services. Have a list of people you can contact or go to and if needed, an escape plan. Find domestic violence shelters and hotlines in your area. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
Most importantly, remember that if you are experiencing domestic violence you are not to blame, you deserve better and there is a way out!