Louraisal McDonald: Domestic violence is a problem for every community | New

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According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, October was first declared National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 1989. Since then, October has been a time to recognize domestic violence survivors and be a voice for its victims.

Domestic violence is widespread in every community and affects all people regardless of age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or nationality. Physical violence is often accompanied by abusive and emotionally controlling behavior as part of a much larger and systematic pattern of domination and control. Domestic violence can lead to physical injury, psychological trauma and even death. The devastating consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.

This website also notes that although there has been substantial progress in reducing domestic violence, an average of 20 people are physically assaulted by intimate partners every minute. This equates to more than 10 million victims of abuse each year. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically assaulted by an intimate partner, and 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been seriously physically assaulted by an intimate partner. Millions of Americans live in silent fear in their own homes daily. In addition, millions of children are exposed to domestic violence every year. Incidents of domestic violence affect everyone in a household and can have long-term negative effects on children’s emotional well-being, as well as on their social and academic functioning.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, anyone can be an abuser. They come from all groups, all cultures, all religions, all economic levels and all walks of life. It could be your neighbor, your pastor, your friend, your child’s teacher, a parent, a colleague – anyone. It is important to note that the majority of abusers are violent only with their current or past intimate partners. One study found that 90 percent of abusers do not have a criminal record, and abusers are generally law abiding outside the home.

This group noted the following barriers to escaping an abusive relationship:

  • Fear that the abuser’s actions will become more violent and may turn fatal if the victim tries to leave.
  • Friends and family who don’t support you
  • Knowledge of the difficulties of single parenthood and reduced financial situation
  • The victim feels that the relationship is a mixture of good times, love and hope as well as manipulation, bullying and fear.
  • The victim’s lack of knowledge or access to safety and support
  • Fear of losing custody of their children if they leave or divorce their abuser or fear that the abuser will harm or even kill their children
  • Lack of means to support themselves and / or those of their children or lack of access to money, bank accounts or assets
  • Lack of a place to go (e.g. no friends or family to help, no money for the hotel, accommodation programs are full or limited by length of stay)
  • Fear that roaming will be their only option if they leave
  • Religious or cultural beliefs and practices may not support divorce or may dictate outdated gender roles and keep the victim trapped in the relationship
  • Belief that two-parent households are better for children, despite abuse

For more information on this topic, contact the Harrison County Extension Office at (903) 935-8414.

– Louraisal McDonald is the County Officer for Family and Community Health in Harrison County.

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