By Terry Orr
Domestic Violence has been around for centuries and in most cultures an accepted practice of the male dominating and punishing the female for almost any reason. Unfortunately this practice still continues – in spite of good efforts to stem this activity. This article is focus on “Breaking the Cycle of Domestic Violence”.
…Breaking the cycle of family violence requires a transformation of values that places victims, their families, and communities at the center of a network of support provided collaboratively by the justice, education, victim advocate, and health care and social services systems. ~ From the ICAP Family Violence Summit 1997
Over the past two decades – what really significant changes have been made to reduce Domestic Violence? Based upon my research to date – most changes have been small ones and at the federal level – there are still having difficulty reaching agreement. The Media and Entertainment communities have done next to nothing to help stem the cycle of violence.
We live in a violent World – violence is everywhere: news, games; videos, movies, TV programs; books, newspapers; and nearly every part of our lives. Intolerance of others – road rage – and denial that you can help change our environment. Breaking the Cycle of Violence will certainly not happen with the current attitudes, laws, indifference, and failure to recognize we have a problem – and recognizing we have a problem is the first step in solving it.
We can change some of the violence in our world, especially domestic/family violence. It is about: Love, Respect and Saying No. It is seeking help when you need it!
Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime. [Source: NCADV]
Break the cycle
If you're in an abusive situation, you might recognize this pattern:
- Your abuser threatens violence;
- Your abuser strikes;
- Your abuser apologizes, promises to change and offers gifts;
- The cycle repeats itself; and
- Typically the violence becomes more frequent and severe over time.
The longer you stay in an abusive relationship, the greater the toll on your self-esteem. You might become depressed and anxious. You might begin to doubt your ability to take care of yourself or wonder if the abuse is your fault. You might feel helpless or paralyzed. If you're an older woman who has health problems, you might feel dependent upon an abusive partner. If you're in a same sex relationship, you might be less likely to seek help after an assault if you don't want to disclose your sexual orientation. If you've been sexually assaulted by another woman, you might also fear that you won't be believed. Still, the only way to break the cycle of domestic violence is to take action — and the sooner the better.
Start by telling someone about the abuse, whether it's a friend, loved one, health care provider or other close contact. At first, you might find it hard to talk about the abuse. But you'll also likely feel relief and receive much-needed support.
Create a safety plan
Leaving an abuser can be dangerous. Consider taking these precautions:
- Call a women's shelter or domestic violence hotline for advice. Make the call at a safe time — when the abuser isn't around — or from a friend's house or other safe location.
- Pack an emergency bag that includes items you'll need when you leave, such as extra clothes and keys. Leave the bag in a safe place. Keep important personal papers, money and prescription medications handy so that you can take them with you on short notice.
- Know exactly where you'll go and how you'll get there.
- Protect your communication and location
An abuser can use technology to monitor your telephone and online communication and to track your physical location. If you're concerned for your safety, seek help. To maintain your privacy:
- Use phones cautiously. Your abuser might intercept calls and listen to your conversations. He or she might use caller ID, check your cellphone or search your phone billing records to see your complete call and texting history.
- Use your home computer cautiously. Your abuser might use spyware to monitor your emails and the websites you visit. Consider using a computer at work, the library or at a friend's house to seek help.
- Remove GPS devices from your vehicle. Your abuser might use a GPS device to pinpoint your location.
- Frequently change your email password. Choose a password that would be impossible for your abuser to guess.
- Clear your viewing history. Follow your browser's instructions to clear any record of websites or graphics you've viewed.
Where to find help
In an emergency, call 911 — or your local emergency number or law enforcement agency. The following resources also can help:
- Someone you trust. Turn to a friend, loved one, neighbor, co-worker, or religious or spiritual adviser for support.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE or 800-799-7233. Call the hotline for crisis intervention and referrals to resources, such as women's shelters.
- Your health care provider. Doctors and nurses will treat injuries and can refer you to safe housing and other local resources.
- A local women's shelter or crisis center. Shelters and crisis centers typically provide 24-hour emergency shelter, as well as advice on legal matters and advocacy and support services.
- A counseling or mental health center. Counseling and support groups for women in abusive relationships are available in most communities.
- A local court. Your district court can help you obtain a restraining order that legally mandates the abuser to stay away from you or face arrest. Local advocates may be available to help guide you through the process.
It can be hard to recognize or admit that you're in an abusive relationship — but help is available. Remember, no one deserves to be abused.
Last December, Amy Neumann wrote an excellent article titled “Domestic Violence: Help a Woman Break the Cycle.” She is a survivor of domestic violence and offers a unique perspective and helpful tips on how to break the chains of domestic violence.
The first step to breaking the chains is telling someone.
Four helpful resources:
References and Links:
Domestic Violence Awareness Month