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What is Abuse? Women Survivors
What Is Abuse? A Warning List:
Many women don't think of themselves as "abused." They may not think of themselves as "battered." Many victims don't see the things their partners do to them as abusive, and they don't see them as a pattern.
Abuse is about control. It is one person scaring another person into doing what he wants her to do. It is not just one hit. It is a pattern. Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, economic. It can also be criminal. It is usually a whole series of behaviors used to get and keep control.
Here is a list of questions for you to ask yourself. You don't need to answer "yes" to all of them to have been abused.
Has your partner ever...
hit, grabbed, choked, bitten, burned, slapped or pushed you?
used a gun or a knife or some kind of weapon against you?
hit you with some object like a bat or pan or belt?
hit, held or squeezed you so hard that it left a bruise?
threatened to hurt or to kill you or your children or your friends?
withheld money or food or medicine or transportation from you?
called you names, made you feel ashamed of yourself, humiliated you?
put you down in front of your children, your friends, your boss?
forced you to have sex when you did not want to?
forced you to perform sexual acts you did not want to?
destroyed or broken your possessions?
threatened to harm or kill himself if you do or don't do something?
Domestic violence is the most common and unrecognized killer of women in the USA
It kills more women than auto accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
Acts of domestic violence occur every 18 seconds in the USA
95% of all domestic violence victims are women and children.
Over 95% of spousal assaults are committed by men.
6 million American women are beaten each year by their husbands or boyfriends.
Women are much more likely to be assaulted by a male partner than by a stranger on the street. Domestic violence occurs equally across all sectors of society.
It knows no social, economic, racial, or religious boundaries.
Acts of violence not only inflict physical injuries, but also have the potential to destroy a person's foundations of trust and safety.
Not only that, there is a strong potential of harm to future generations. Violence teaches violence.
So the children of these families have a strong potential to grow up to be battered, or be batters themselves.
Domestic Violence thrives because of the lack of public awareness and community response to the problem of domestic violence, as well a lack of acknowledgment and desire for change. Most of our social structures and institutions are based on a system that dictates that men, because of their gender, are entitled to control women and children.
FALSE perceptions of the causes of domestic violence:
The foundation of domestic violence is that abusers want to control everything. They batter because they believe it works and because they can.
Less than 1 man in 100 is convicted of wife assault in court.
One primary aspect of domestic violence that must be understood in order to fully recognize the problem is that domestic violence is the result of a choice.
It is NOT caused by:
~alcohol or drugs
~problems from his childhood
~old war experiences
~stress from work or other areas of his life
~a physical illness
~racism or poverty
~his inability to express his feelings
~how the victims looks or acts.
Answers to the commonly asked question "Why doesn't she leave?"
There are many complex reasons why a woman is unable to leave her partner which could include any or all of the following:
Hope for change: Many abusive partners apologize after the abusive incident, or promise to change or seek counseling which encourages the battered woman to hope and believe a change will occur.
Isolation: Abusive partners isolate battered women from all outside support systems such as family, friends and coworkers believing that they "own" the battered women and are entitled to complete control over her.
Societal denial: Battered women fear no one will believe their partners are abusing them in any way due to community agents trivializing the abuse; doctors not addressing the results of visible abuse, ministers recommending prayers and therapists advising better communication with the battered.
Barricades to leaving: Abusive partners will put up many barricades preventing the woman from leaving such as threatens to seek custody of the children, to hurt/kill her or other family members, to commit suicide, or to expose her as a liar. The abuser may also have broken down the woman's self esteem, making her believe she (and her children) will be UNABLE to survive without him. In addition, the abuser has fostered an environment of total fear, that has terrorized the battered woman.
Dangers in leaving: Many battered women are killed after they have left or separated because the abuser cannot cope with her being out of his control. He will escalate the violence to force the battered woman into staying or to retaliate for leaving. Many battered women are aware of these factors and thus feel they cannot leave.
Economic autonomy: Many battered women do not have any economic resources independent from their abuser; he has taken total control over all the money. This leaves some battered women feeling they have no way to support themselves or their children if they leave.
Frequency and severity: The less frequent and severe the violent incidents are, the more likely the woman will stay.
Her childhood experiences: Women who grew up in a violent or abusive home may perceive the abuse as a "normal" part of family life, and are less likely to leave their present situation.
Her beliefs about marriage: Some women may feel they are unable to leave or get divorced due to their personal beliefs about marriage. These may be attributed to religious, ethnic or social reasons.
PLEASE CALL THE POLICE!
Write down the emergency number for the police. Call the operator if you don't know it.
If you don't have a phone, try to arrange a signal with neighbors so that they can call the police.
When the police come, be specific about where he hit you. Say, "He hit me in the stomach, kicked me in the ribs."
Show the police your injuries. Show the police what household items he broke.
If you are scared to do that in front of your partner, think about talking to one of the officers alone.
Why you may want to call the police:
They can protect you from immediate danger and help you and your children get out of the house safely.
They can arrest the abuser without a warrant, when the police officer has good reason to believe that an assault has taken place or is taking place or that the abuser has violated a personal protection order.
They must advise you of the availability of shelter programs and other services in your area.
They must write out a police report, which is a detailed account of what happened to you.
A police report may be used to help prove the abuse occurred, should charges be filed against the abuser.
A police report can be used to show good cause for the court to grant a personal protection order if you should ever need one.
Get support from friends and family
Tell your family, friends and coworkers what has happened.
Move out, move away
It's not fair! You should not have to leave your home because of his behavior. But sometimes the only way you will be safe is to leave. There are shelters throughout the country that can help you relocate. HAVEN can put you in touch with them.
Get a personal protection order!
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