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OCTOBER IS NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH

Montgomery, AL– October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to promoting public awareness about domestic violence and informing communities about available resources to aid families dealing with a domestic violence crisis.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). The intent was to connect battered women’s advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children.

In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was held. Two years later, Congress passed the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month commemorative legislation. Such legislation has been passed every year since 1989.

According to NCADV, domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically.

Domestic Violence is a critical issue that is prevalent in communities nationwide. NCADV suggests that it affects individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death.

Research shows that every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Also in the US, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute. In addition, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner while 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner.

Domestic violence can be very dangerous, especially to younger women. According to NCADV, Domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime while 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon. Domestic violence is most common among women between the ages of 18-24.

Substance abuse plays a serious role in domestic violence. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, two-thirds of victims suffering violence by a current or former spouse or partner report that the perpetrator had been drinking, compared to less than one-third of stranger victimizations. Among spouse victims, three out of four incidents reportedly involved an offender who had been drinking.

Research from The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) shows that among victims of domestic violence, alcohol played a role in 55% of the cases, while drugs played a role in only 9% of the cases; for spousal violence, alcohol was a factor in 65% of the cases, versus only 5% for drugs.

According to In Public Safety, societal views expanded to better understand the types of violence that exist within relationships as well as the reality that the roles of abuser and victim are not gender-specific. As a result, the term “intimate partner violence” (IPV) was introduced to encompass a broader understanding of violence in relationships.

Use of the term IPV moved us away from the old view that abusive violence only occurs in marital relationships where the husband was the abuser and the wife was the victim. The concept of IPV acknowledges that abuse can exist in any type of personal intimate relationship, regardless of sexual orientation, marital status, or gender.

Substance abuse also has a significant impact on IPV. Research from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) suggests that substance abuse has been found to co-occur in 40-60% of IPV incidents across various studies. Several lines of evidence further suggest that substance use/abuse plays a facilitative role in IPV by precipitating or exacerbating violence.

Statistics show that greater than 20% of male perpetrators report using alcohol and/or illicit drugs prior to the most recent and severe acts of violence. Victims of IPV also report the offender had been consuming alcohol and/or using illicit drugs. Many studies find excessive alcohol use to be strongly associated with perpetrating partner violence, though there is debate as to whether heavy drinking causes men to be violent or whether it is used to excuse violent behavior.

The economic effects of domestic violence can be adverse as well. Research from the NCADV has found that victims of domestic violence lose a total of 8 million days of paid work each year. The cost of domestic violence exceeds $8.3 billion annually. Between 21-60% of victims of domestic violence lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse. Between 2003 and 2008, 142 women were murdered in their workplace by former or current intimate partners. This amounts to 22% of workplace homicides among women.

In Alabama, 16 percent of violent offenses in Alabama in 2013 were domestic violence incidents. A firearm was used in 15 percent of these offenses. There were 24 domestic violence victims were killed in Alabama in 2013. Also in 2013, there were 2,872 domestic violence aggravated assaults and 32,587 domestic violence simple assaults in Alabama. Lastly, a firearm was used in half of Alabama domestic violence homicides.

Getting out of a violent relationship is not always easy. There are many reasons why individuals choose to stay in abusive relationships. The NCADV suggests that:

  • The victim fears the abuser’s violent behavior will escalate if (s)he tries to leave.
  • The abuser has threatened to kill the victim, the victim’s family, friends, pets, children and/or himself/herself.
  • The victim loves his/her abuser and believes (s)he will change.
  • The victim believes abuse is a normal part of a relationship.
  • The victim is financially dependent on the abuser.
  • The abuser has threatened to take the victim’s children away if (s)he leaves.
  • The victim wants her/his children to have two parents.
  • The victim’s religious and/or cultural beliefs preclude him/her from leaving.
  • The victim has low self-esteem and believes (s)he is to blame for the abuse.
  • The victim is embarrassed to let others know (s)he has been abused.
  • The victim has nowhere to go if (s)he leaves.
  • The victim fears retribution from the abuser’s friends and/or family.

According to the Alabama Coalition on Domestic Violence, perpetrators of domestic violence exhibit certain key personality traits. It is likely that a perpetrator blames others for his problems, is hypersensitive, cruel to children or pets, playfully uses force during sex, damages her personal belongings, exhibits a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, has a history of battering, makes threats of bodily harm, breaks or strikes objects, and objectifies women.

A perpetrator of domestic violence may also manipulate a partner through guilt, experiences extreme highs and lows, expect the partner to follow his orders, display frightening rage, and uses physical force.

For anonymous and confidential help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). They have trained counselors available 24/7 to speak to you.

For more information about Domestic Violence Awareness Month visit www.ncadv.org

The mission of COSA-NCADD is to reduce the incidence and prevalence of the disease of alcoholism, other drug addiction diseases, and related problems. For more information about COSA- NCADD call 334-262-1629 or visit www.cosancadd.org

 

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