A recent study from the Center for Disease control (CDC) found out that 1 in every 4 women has been severely beaten or assaulted by a spouse or partner. With the rates of violence so high, many women are concerned about their safety.
Why is the rate of domestic violence so high?
We have known for years that women are the most common victims of domestic violence. But these numbers speak to a deepening problem in American society–too many of us replace words and negotiations with intimidation and bullying.
Bullies believe that if they don’t get their way, they can threaten and intimidate others to achieve their desired outcome. Such behaviors have translated into how we behave in our relationships. Violent habits now thrive in relationships where there are no witnesses and most often no accountability.
To make matters even worse, most domestic violence victims, male and female, often don’t reach out for help, as there is a certain amount of shame associated with being abused by someone you have chosen to love. Many, victims would rather suffer in silence than admit that the person they love has hit them or injured them.
So how can you help prevent domestic violence? Here are few things you can do:
Know the signs:
Isolation: Predators prefer that their victims remain isolated. It makes them easier to control.
Moving too fast: Many predators want to get into a relationship quickly and move fast. What they want is to quickly gain control over their victim and to get them into a compromising situation.
Won’t take no for an answer: Anyone who won’t accept no for an answer wants to control the other person. Way too often, once a man says no, the discussion is over. However, when a woman says no, this is taken as just the beginning of the negotiation.
Symbolic violence: This involves destroying items of value to the other person in the relationship or that are symbolic of the relationship itself. The intent here is to intimidate the other person and cause emotional distress. Tearing up wedding pictures, destroying personal belonging, or even abusing a beloved pet are all red flags.
Increasing anxiety and depression: Domestic violence victims show increasing signs of anxiety and depression such as:
- Emotional mood swings; and
- Persistent crying.
Avoiding the truth: Victims of abuse are often shell-shocked. They are virtually frozen stiff by the stress and anxiety. Many people who were brought up in good homes are actually oblivious to what abuse actually is. They either:
- Don’t know what violence is;
- Normalize their abuser’s violent behavior; or
- Make excuses for their abuser’s behavior until it is too late.
Shedding relationship: Victims of domestic abuse tend to shed their former relationships––best friends, former boyfriends and girlfriends, contact with neighbors or former teachers. They stop responding when you reach out to them and deny the abuse.
1. Accept what you see
Denial is the biggest contributor to domestic violence. Most people underestimate the threat of domestic violence and don’t recognize the warning signs, like a history of possessiveness, intimidation, or overly jealous behavior. These are all psychological red flags warning of potential danger. When you see danger, recognize it as danger and do something about it.
2. Trust your intuition
Intuition is the best tool we have to help us prevent domestic violence. 31,000 women die each year from violent acts, most at the hands of a romantic partner. Respect your own intuition. Do not talk yourself out of or normalize violent behavior that you witness. Stop debating and questioning your own observations. Our brains are hardwired to pick up on signs of danger that tell us that something is wrong. If you feel that someone is in danger, they most likely are.
3. Don’t legitimize the violence
Violence in a relationship is never a legitimate way of handling disagreements or strong emotions. It is never justified, and it is always wrong. A little push can become a swinging fist or a weapon wielded aggressively. Remember that once violence happens once or twice, the likelihood of it happening again it is exponentially greater. Violence almost always escalates when there is no accountability.
4. Speak out
If you feel that someone close to you is being subjected to domestic violence you need to speak out. Many friends and relatives are reluctant to intervene out of respect for the individual’s personal boundaries. However, caring about the person involves compassionate intervention. Whatever you do, do not simply look the other way and remain silent.
5. Gather evidence
Document what you see of the abuse and arrange it into a coherent dialogue. Detail unacceptable behavior you may have witnessed yourself, heard about from others, things you may have read on social media, or seen in text messages. Be specific and stick to the fact.
6. Present the evidence and stand your ground
Delicately present your evidence to the victim. Let the person know that you are speaking to them out of concern for their safety. Remember that they are likely locked in a cage of denial and have no perspective on what is happening to them.
Insist that the abuser is held accountable for his or her violent actions and that you will no longer stand by and ignore such behavior. Stand your ground. They need your help. If they are still reluctant to discuss the matter with you, turn to their community of friend and ask them to intervene.
7. Get help
Make sure that you do not go it alone. Contact a local group or domestic violence hotline and even the police, if necessary. These organizations can help you find a safe place for the victim stay, help them set up new jobs and bank accounts, and can even help them take care of their children. They have all of the strategies and resource to help a person leave an abusive relationship safely and successfully.
Remember, victims of domestic violence are often trapped in a cage of fear and have no perspective on what is truly going on in their lives. Taking these steps to prevent domestic violence before it happens, as hard as some of them may be, can potentially save a person’s life.