Brought to you by ISU Public Safety and the ISU Safety Committee September, 2004
Domestic Violence: Protecting Yourself and Your Children
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence is abuse by a caregiver, a parent, a spouse or an intimate partner. It can take many forms. Here are some types of abuse: Physical abuse is the use of physical force; sexual abuse means any forced sexual activity; emotional abuse includes threats, constant criticism and put-downs. Controlling access to money and controlling activities are other abusive behaviors.
What should I know about domestic violence?
Violence against a partner or a child is a crime in all states. Each year, at least 2 million women are abused in this country. Abuse happens to people of all races, ages, incomes and religions.
What can I do if my children or I am abused?
First, make sure you and your children are safe. Go to a safe place, such as the home of a friend or a relative, or an emergency shelter. Take your children with you. Call Public Safety or the police if you can’t leave home safely or if you want to bring charges against your abuser.
If possible take your house keys, money and important papers with you. Do not use drugs or alcohol during this time because you need to be alert in a crisis. ISU Public Safety, Project Hope Advocates, etc. can help you file for a court order of protection.
What are other ways I can get help if I am abused?
Talk to your doctor, who can treat any medical problem, provide support and make referrals. Call an emergency shelter and ask about counseling and support groups for you and your children. Nurses, social workers and other health care professionals can also help you.
(Courtesy of The National Women’s Health Information Center)
Approximately 1.5 million women and 834,700 men are raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000a)
Nearly two-thirds of women who reported being raped, physically assaulted, or stalked since age 18 were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabitating partner, boyfriend, or date (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000a)
Each year, thousands of American children witness intimate partner violence within their families. Witnessing violence is a risk factor for long-term physical and mental health problems, including alcohol and substance abuse, being a victim of abuse, and perpetrating IPV (Felitti, et al. 1998)
Women are more likely than men to be murdered in the context of intimate partner violence. Women ages 20 to 29 years of age are at greatest risk of being killed by an intimate partner.
Nearly one-third of African American women experience IPV in their lifetimes compared with one-fourth of white women (Tjaden & Thoennes 2000b). According to the National Violence Against Women Survey, American Indian/Alaska Native women and ment were mostly likely to report IPV, while Asian/Pacific Island women and men were less likely to report IPV.
Why Do Women Stay?
All too often the question "Why do women stay in violent relationships?" is answered with a victim blaming attitude. Women victims of abuse often hear that they must like or need such treatment, or they would leave. Others may be told that they are one of the many "women who love too much" or who have "low self-esteem." The truth is that no one enjoys being beaten, no matter what their emotional state or self image.
A woman’s reasons for staying are more complex than a statement about her strength of character. In many cases it is dangerous for a woman to leave her abuser. If the abuser has all of the economic and social status, leaving can cause additional problems for the woman. Leaving could mean living in fear and losing child custody, losing financial support, and experiencing harassment at work.
Although there is no profile of the women who will be battered, there is a well documented syndrome of what happens once the battering starts. Battered women experience shame, embarrassment and isolation. A woman may not leave battering immediately because:
- She realistically fears that the batterer will become more violent and maybe even fatal if she attempts to leave;
- Her friends and family may not support her leaving;
- She knows the difficulties of single parenting in reduced financial circumstances;
- There is a mix of good times, love and hope along with the manipulation, intimidation and fear;
- She may not know about or have access to safety and support.
Dating Violence -- Did You Know?
Dating violence and acquaintance assault happens more frequently than most people think. Up to one-third of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 have reported being involved in at least one abusive dating situation. Date rapes, which account for 60 percent of all rapes, are not usually committed by a stranger late at night. More than 80 percent of all sexual assaults occur between people who know each other. These assaults happen on dates, in people’s homes, at parties and in the daylight hours as well as at night. The assailant may be a friend, lover, boyfriend, classmate, co-worker or even a family member.
Dating violence is more than just arguing or fighting. Dating violence is a pattern of controlling behaviors that one partner uses to get power over the other, including:
- Any kind of physical violence or threat of physical violence to get control;
- Emotional or mental abuse, such as playing mind games, making you feel crazy, or constantly putting you down or criticizing you;
- Sexual abuse, including making you do anything you don’t want to do, refusing to have safe sex, or making you feel bad about yourself sexually.
Teens and young adults who abuse their girlfriends or boyfriends do the same things as adults who abuse their partners do. Dating violence is just as serious as adult domestic violence.
Teens and young adults are seriously at risk for dating violence. Research shows that physical or sexual abuse is a part of 1 in 3 high school relationships. In 95% of abusive relationships, men abuse women.
However, young women can be violent, and young men can also be victims. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans teens and young adults are just as at risk for abuse in their relationships as anyone else.
Abuse relationships have good times and bad times. Part of what makes dating violence so confusing and painful is that there is love mixed with the abuse. This can make it hard to tell if you are really being abused. Here are some good questions to ask yourself.
- Do you feel less confident about yourself when you are with him/her?
- Have you been told by people you trust that they’re worried about your safety?
- Do you feel scared or worried about doing or saying the wrong thing?
- Do you find yourself changing your behavior out of fear or to avoid a fight?
Unfortunately, without help, the violence will only get worse. If something about your relationship with your partner frightens you and you need to talk, please call the ISU Project Hope line at 282-4673 or ISU Public Safety at 282-2515 (911 for all emergencies).
(Courtesy of Univ. of Nebraska Cooperative Extension & the National Women’s Health Information Center)
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