October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a time for all of us to speak up about domestic violence, raise awareness, and support survivors of this devastating but common issue.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, and it is present in every community, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic status, religion, or nationality.

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and 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, threats, economic and emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence vary dramatically.”

Sometimes, people don’t know if they are really in an abusive relationship because they’re used to their partner calling them crazy or making them feel like all the problems are their fault. Here are a few ways to know if you’re in an abusive relationship that you need to get out of.

  1. Your partner has hit you, beat you, or strangled you in the past.
  2. Your partner is possessive. They check up on you constantly, wondering where you are; they get mad at you for hanging out with certain people if you don’t do what they say.
  3. Your partner is jealous. (A small amount of jealousy is normal and healthy) however, if they accuse you of being unfaithful or isolate you from family or friends, that means the jealousy has gone too far.
  4. Your partner puts you down. First, they attack your intelligence, looks, mental health, or capabilities. Then, they blame you for all their violent outbursts and tell you nobody else will want you if you leave.
  5. Your partner threatens you or your family.
  6. Your partner physically and sexually abuses you. If they EVER push, shove, or hit you, or make you have sex with them when you don’t want to, they are abusing you (even if it doesn’t happen all the time.)

People who are in an abusive relationship will stay with their partner for several reasons:

  • Their selfesteem is destroyed, and they are made to feel they will never be able to find another person to be with.
  • The cycle of abuse, meaning the ‘honeymoon phase’ that follows physical and mental abuse, makes them believe their partner is sorry and does love them.
  • It’s dangerous to leave. According to the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, women are 70 times more likely to be killed the weeks after leaving their abusive partner than at any other time in the relationship.
  • Statistics suggest that almost 5 percent of male homicide victims each year are killed by an intimate partner.
  • They feel personally responsible for their partner or their behavior. They are made to feel like everything that goes wrong is their fault.
  • They share a life. Marriages, children, homes, pets, and finances are a big reason victims of abuse feel they can’t leave.

 If someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, and you are someone they know and trust, talk to them about what they want. Do not make decisions for the survivor of domestic violence, but you can always inform them of all their options, including reporting and getting help. The National Domestic Hotline has advocates available 24/7 at 1.800.787.3244. For local assistance, please call 608.668.2312 or email Lisa Johanningmeier, Coordinator and Case Manager for Vernon County Domestic Abuse Project, at ljohanningmeier@fccnetwork.org.

Contributed by: Lisa M. Johanningmeier, Coordinator and Case Manager for Vernon County Domestic Abuse Project, a Program of Family & Children’s Center

Source: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month – https://www.rescue.org/announcement/october-domestic-violence-awareness-month