October 01, 2012

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Source: Labor and Social Justice

WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE? RISK FACTORS; WARNING SIGNS

1. Domestic Violence is:

  • A pattern of coercive behavior;
  • Intended to establish and maintain power and control over one’s intimate partner;
  • Can present with many tactics of abuse.

2. Abusive behavior can include:

  • Using coercion and threats;
  • Using intimidation;
  • Using emotional abuse;
  • Using isolation;
  • Minimizing, denying, blaming;
  • Using children and/or pets;
  • Using gender privilege;
  • Using economic abuse.

Domestic violence can include any or all of the above, can include physical assault, stalking and sexual assault.

3. Domestic Violence is more than three times more likely to occur when couples are experiencing high levels of financial strain than when they are experiencing low levels of financial strain. A bad economic climate may give batterers additional leverage when using emotional and financial abuse to control their partners. As the violence gets worse, a weak economy limits options for survivors to seek safety or escape.

4. Signs of unhealthy or potentially abusive relationship can include a partner:

  • Who is jealous or possessive. This can look like too many texts or phone calls asking where you are and who you are with;
  • Who tells you what or what not to wear, who you can talk to and when, where you can and cannot go;
  • Is violent, gets into fights, loses his/her temper a lot;
  • Pressures you to have sex or to do something sexual that you don’t want to do;
  • Uses drugs and/or alcohol and tries to pressure you into doing the same;
  • Physically or verbally hurts you;
  • Blames you for his/her problems;
  • Tells you that it’s your fault that he/she hurts you;
  • Insults and embarrasses you in front of others;
  • Makes you afraid of their reactions to your actions, your friends, anything at all.

(Note: These are particularly helpful for young people in dating relationships but apply to abusive relationships at any time of life).

5. Some other subtle warning signs that a person may be a potential abuser include:

  • He/she insists on moving too quickly into a relationship;
  • He/she can be very charming and may seem too good to be true;
  • He/she insists that you stop participating in leisure activities or spending time with family and friends;
  • He/she is extremely jealous or controlling;
  • He/she does not take responsibility for his/her actions and blames others for everything that goes wrong;
  • He/she criticizes a partner’s appearance and makes frequent put-downs;
  • His/her words and actions don’t match.

6. What is Stalking? Stalking is a series of unwanted actions, including phone calls/texts/e-mails, following, damage to property, leaving gifts or other items, and other behaviors to control, threaten, harass or frighten the intended victim. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time. The majority of stalking occurs in the context of an abusive relationship or when a relationship has ended, although, some victims are stalked by acquaintances or strangers.

7. More than one in four stalking victims reports that some form of cyber stalking was used against them, such as email or instant messaging. Electronic monitoring of some kind is used to stalk one in 13 victims

WHO ARE THE TARGETS FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

1. Domestic Violence affects women disproportionately more than men (although men can be victims/survivors as well): On average more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States.

2. Nearly one in four women in the United States reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse of boyfriend at some point in her life. Using NYSUT membership numbers, we can calculate that as many as 105,000 NYSUT members have or will experience violence at the hands of a spouse of boyfriend. (600,000 NYSUT members; 70% of whom are women = 420,000 women; 25% = 105,000).

3. Eighty-five percent of Domestic Violence victims are women in heterosexual relationships; the other 15% include Intimate Partner Violence in gay or lesbian relationships and men who are battered by a female partner.

SOME OF THE EFFECTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

On Children

1. Domestic Violence affects children. 15.5 million children in the United States live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year*, and seven million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred. (*data from 2003)

2. Children who experience childhood trauma, including witnessing incidents of domestic violence are at a greater risk of having serious adult health problems including tobacco abuse, substance abuse, obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression and a higher risk of unintended pregnancy.

3. Children of mothers who experience prenatal physical domestic violence are at an increased risk of exhibiting aggressive, anxious, depressed or hyperactive behavior.

4. Short-Term Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

  • Generalized anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • High activity levels
  • Increased aggression
  • Increased anxiety about being separated from a parent
  • Intense worry about their safety or the safety of a parent

5. Long-term effects, especially from chronic exposure to domestic violence, may include:

  • Physical health problems
  • Behavior problems in adolescence (e.g., juvenile delinquency, alcohol, substance abuse)
  • Emotional difficulties in adulthood (e.g., depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD)

6. Exposure to domestic violence has also been linked to poor school performance. Children who grow up with domestic violence may have impaired ability to concentrate; difficulty in completing school work; and lower scores on measures of verbal, motor, and social skills.

7. In addition to these physical, behavioral, psychological, and cognitive effects, children who have been exposed to domestic violence often learn destructive lessons about the use of violence and power in relationships. Children may learn that it is acceptable to exert control or relieve stress by using violence, or that violence is in some way linked to expressions of intimacy and affection. These lessons can have a powerful negative effect on children in social situations and relationships throughout childhood and in later life.

On Health

1. Domestic Violence is a health issue: Women who have experienced DV are 80% more likely to have a stroke, 70% more likely to have heart disease, 60% more likely to have asthma and 70% more likely to drink heavily than women who have not experience Intimate Partner Violence.

2. A study comparing children of battered women and refugees of war found significant similarities including sadness, anger, confusion, and PTSD.

3. Many of the physical injuries sustained by women seem to cause medical difficulties as women grow older. Arthritis, hypertension and heart disease have been identified by battered women as directly caused by aggravated by domestic violence early in their adult lives. Medical disorders such as diabetes or hypertension may be aggravated in victims of domestic violence because the abuser may not allow them access to medications or adequate medical care.

On Work

1. Domestic Violence is a workplace issue: A study of targets of Domestic Violence found that:

  • 98% had difficulty concentrating on work tasks;
  • 96% had impaired job performance;
  • 87% received harassing phone calls;
  • 78% reported being late to work;
  • 60% lost their jobs due to domestic abuse.

2. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that eight million work days are lost annually as a result of Domestic Violence; this is the equivalent of 32,000 full time jobs.

3. Between one-quarter and one-half of domestic violence victims report that they lost a job, at least in part, due to domestic violence. Women who experienced domestic violence were more likely to experience spells of unemployment, have health problems and be welfare recipients.

COST OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

1. Domestic Violence is estimated to cost $5.8 billionannually in the United States. (From UN Women, UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IF YOU SUSPECT ABUSE

1. Signs that a person may be living in an abusive relationship include:

  • Injuries and excuses about how they occurred; this may include dressing in clothing designed to cover up bruises or black eyes; the victim may talk about being clumsy and having frequent "accidents";
  • Frequent absences from work or school;
  • Low self-esteem. This can include difficulty knowing how she/he feels or what she/he wants;
  • Changes in personality;
  • Frequent check-ins with a partner to report where a person is or what she/he is doing;
  • Fear of conflict;
  • Isolation, including not seeing family and friends, having limited access to money, credit cards or the car, rarely going out in public without the partner.
  • See the resource list below for a more complete list.

2. It can be hard to understand why a victim stays with her/his abuser. There are many possible reasons:

  • Abusers work very hard to keep victims in the relationship;
  • Women who are in abusive relationships may have limited financial resources and no way of self-support (or support of children) if they leave;
  • Abusers may threaten to harm children or pets if the victim leaves;
  • Victims may fear for their lives if they leave; a victim’s risk of being killed increases significantly when she/he is in the process of leaving or has just left the relationship;
  • Abusers are very good at making victims feel that the abuse is their fault. Victims often believe that if they caused the violence, they can also stop it;
  • Survivors sometimes want the abuse to end, but not the relationship.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO STOP DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

1. EDUCATE: yourself, your fellow union members, your students and colleagues. Domestic violence thrives in secrecy; the more we know about it, the less power it has.

2. GET HELP: If you have seen yourself described in any of the "factoids" listed, seek help. You can approach your Local President, a trusted friend or colleague, a religious leader OR you can call a Hot-Line directly: National Hot-Line: 1-800799-7233 (SAFE); TTY: 1-800-787-3224. In NEW YORK STATE: 1-800-942-6906; Spanish: 1-800942-6908.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. Emergency personnel and police are much better trained than in the past and will respond in a helpful manner.

3. SPEAK UP: Your voice may make the difference. Talk to the person you fear may be in an abusive situation and describe your concerns and offer your support. Reassure her/him of your respect for confidentiality; offer help (shelter, money, hot-line resources, a ride); support her/his decisions. Try not to judge or blame or to offer advice. Be patient and a good listener.

4. ADVOCATE: Offer to help with your local Domestic Violence shelter. For a list, visit: www.ocfs.state.ny.us and click on "domestic violence" and "service providers" in the top menu.

5. SUPPORT laws that protect victims and survivors of Domestic Violence. www.4vawa.org will help you advocate for renewal of the Violence Against Women Act in 2012 and beyond.


RESOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

1. www.futureswithoutviolence.org. Mission is to "advance the health, stability, education, and security of women and girls, men and boys worldwide."

2. www.msu.edu/~safe/, an excellent source of information, is the site for "relationship violence" at Michigan State University.

3. www.safeatworkcoalition.org consists of private employers, trade unions, government agencies, and domestic violence service providers whose mission is to bring domestic violence out of the shadows and to highlight its effect in the workplace.