We feel so much safer when we think domestic violence happens to someone else, somewhere else. But the fact is domestic violence does not discriminate. One in 4 women are affected by domestic violence. Rarely will you find an issue that affects 1 in 4 women. In the past year, more than 1,000 Centre County residents have sought services for domestic violence from the Centre County Women’s Resource Center. Mothers, daughters, wives, grandmothers, nieces, aunts — all are included in the 1 in 4 statistic.
Domestic violence happens in all communities, religions, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, ages, educational levels and income brackets. It is not a woman’s problem. It is not a man’s problem. It is everyone’s problem. Research shows that the overwhelming majority (about 95 percent) of adult victims of domestic violence are women. Although the “norm” of domestic violence relationships is male perpetrator and female victim, anyone can be a victim of abuse. It is very likely that someone in your neighborhood, office or extended family is in danger right now from an abusive partner.
Although considered an epidemic, domestic violence is often overlooked, excused or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out. There is help available.
Has your partner ever:
• Checked your cellphone or email without your permission?
• Put you down in public?
• Required you to constantly check-in?
• Become extremely jealous or insecure?
• Isolated you from family or friends?
• Physically hurt you in any way?
• Acted extremely possessive?
• Tried to financially control you?
• Told you what to do?
• Coerced you into sexual activity?
If someone you care about is being hurt, it can be hard to know what to do. The most important thing is to be there to listen and provide support without judgment. Other ways to help:
• Provide information about domestic violence resources
• Remind them that no one deserves to be abused
• Keep in touch — survivors of domestic violence often experience intense isolation
• Express your concern for their safety and the safety of their children
• Be specific about how you can help (transportation, childcare, financial assistance)
• If you witness or hear domestic abuse, call 911
Domestic violence thrives when we remain silent, but if we take a stand and work together, we can make a difference. It takes a unified community to address this crime, including the many individuals who work to help prevent domestic violence, raise awareness of this ongoing problem and assist those who are victimized by domestic violence.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If someone you know needs help, please pass along our 24-hour hotline, 877-234-5050. All services are free, professional and confidential.