Along with breast cancer awareness, October is Domestic Violence (DV) awareness month. Unless a person is involved in its work or is a victim of DV, most do not consider this as a real problem in our country. That could not be further from the truth, as evidenced by statistics.
Domestic Violence is defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
DV can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together, or who are dating. DV affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
A few domestic violence statistics are: It is a silent epidemic that affects one in three women in the world today, and will take the life of more than 1,200 women in America this year, or three women daily. Every nine seconds a woman is abused, every 12 seconds a woman is murdered by a spouse, boyfriend or live-in, one out of four teenage girls are abused before they get to high school, excusing it with "because he loves me/cares for me so much."
Men are victims of domestic violence also, even to the point of murder.
Young girl abusers are more likely to use weapons, knives or guns, in abuse, whereas men often abuse with their bodies.
In households of incomes under $15,000 per year, 35.5 percent of women and 20.7 percent of men suffer DV from an intimate partner. 74 percent of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner and occur in the home. Children, the hope of our future, are particularly vulnerable; annually, some 15 million children witness some form of DV.
Our prisons are full, a large percentage being abusers or have grown up as a victim of domestic violence.
There is help. The passage of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 has worked to raise awareness, made stricter laws, created a national DV hotline number, and provided funds to open shelters and train authorities and counselors in dealing with domestic violence. Further education is needed in the schools. We need to change our frame of reference and intervention to hold the batterers accountable instead of blaming the victim. Instead of asking, "why doesn't the victim leave?" the real question should be, "why does the batterer abuse?" We must include boys and men in our education efforts not as potential perpetrators, but as collaborative allies in an effort to help make our communities safer for women and children.
To eradicate this silent epidemic will require greater awareness and acceptance by our mainstream society that there really is a social problem of epidemic proportion, greater appropriations by states for readily available assistance and support for victims, education, and improved parenting skills, with parents involved in their children's lives from the beginning; abuse is a learned behavior.
To call attention to the problem and increase awareness of Domestic Violence, the GFWC Quapaw Women's Club of Cherokee Village asks that you wear purple on Oct. 15, Awareness Day, and be ready to share about the domestic violence problem we are facing.
Locally, if you are in an abusive situation, seek help. Call the Spring River Adult and Child Services at 870-994-2551 or 800-269-4668.