Domestic violence is a hard issue to nail down—the number of men and women in the United States who endure it is difficult to track because so many cases go unreported. Domestic violence can take many forms—emotional, physical, sexual, or even financial abuse of a spouse or partner. You may even hear it called “intimate partner violence” these days. That’s a new term that covers many types of relationships.
Some figures estimate that 1 in 4 women have been a victim of intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Between 3 and 10 million children (see, it’s hard to nail down the numbers) have witnessed intimate partner violence in their own homes and all of its victims will struggle to manage the many physical and emotional side effects it leaves behind.
Victims of domestic violence can suffer from a variety of problems including:
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Self esteem issues
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Behavior issues and more
You or someone you know may be a victim of domestic violence. Many times, leaving an abuser is much more difficult than people realize—money issues, fear that children will be taken away, access to help and the fact that partners really love their abusers underneath their faults make getting away a very tangled web.
How can I help?
You can help those you care about. If you believe someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship here are some things you can do:
- Approach them at a time that’s safe. Never ask in front of or in ear shot of their abuser.
- Start with “I”. I am worried about….
- Tell them you believe in them. That they are smart, strong and brave.
- Be patient. Helping a victim prepare to leave can take longer than you think it should. Let he or she make those decisions.
Here are some things you should NOT do:
- Don’t pressure them to leave.
- Don’t judge their decision.
- Don’t be an expert if you aren’t. If you need help talking to a friend, reach out to those who can help. Try The National Domestic Violence Hotline or their website or contact your local shelter. Check out the hashtag #seedv for more on ways you can identify victims, and support domestic violence awareness.