October seems to be the month for EVERYTHING: breast cancer, spina bifida, Halloween, and domestic violence. So instead of squeezing domestic violence in somewhere in October, we opted to go out on a limb and say that NOVEMBER is domestic violence month here on Band Back Together.
All month long, we'll be hearing from you, The Band, and sharing your stories of domestic violence in the hopes that somewhere, someone will feel less alone. Because we are none of us alone. So please, submit your domestic abuse stories as you normally would.
I'm sure if you look closely, you'll find mine among them.
In honor of Domestic Violence Month, I'm going to share some information about domestic violence for you here; information taken from our domestic violence resource page.
Much love to you, The Band. Always.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Abuse is any sexual, emotional, physical, economic or psychological actions, or threats of actions that influence another. Abuse also includes behaviors that frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, or injure someone.
Domestic abuse is a pattern of behavior in any relationship used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, marital status. It can happen to couples who are dating, living together, or married.
There are no “better” or “worse” stories of domestic violence. If it has happened to you, it has happened to you.
It is still abuse if it’s only happened once or twice.
It’s still abuse if there’s not been any physical violence. Emotional and verbal abuse can be very damaging as well.
Types of Domestic Abuse:
Physical Abuse: physical abuse is the use of force in a manner that injures or endangers the victim.
Sexual Abuse is a form of physical abuse in which a victim is forced to participate in unwanted sexual activity. Intimate partners or spouses do not have the right to force you to have non-consensual sex with them just because you are in a relationship or marriage. Sexual abuse is an act of violence and aggression, not an act of love or passion .
Emotional Abuse: emotional abuse is used to undermine self-image and independence. Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse, isolation, controlling behavior, shaming, blaming, and name-calling. The long-term effects of emotional abuse can last for years.
Economic Abuse: using money and finances is a means to control their victim through withholding money, setting an allowance, preventing the victim from working or sabotaging a job, stealing the victim’s money, or withholding basic necessities.
Cycle of Violence:
Abuse: The abuser lashes out in a power play designed to show the victim who the boss is.
Guilt: The abuser feels guilt, not for what he’s done, but over being caught for his abusive behavior.
Excuses: The abuser rationalizes what he or she has done. The abuser may rationalize what he/she has done by making up excuses or blaming the victim. Anything but take responsibility for his/her actions.
“Normal” Behavior: Abuser tries to regain control of victim to keep victim in relationship. May act like nothing has happened. May turn on the charm. This may make the victim think that the abuser has really changed.
Fantasy/Planning: Abuser fantasies about next abuse. Spends much time deciding what to punish victim for and how he’ll/she’ll make victim pay. Then he/she makes a plan to turn the abuse into a reality.
Set-up: Abuser sets victim up, puts plan into motion to create a situation to justify abuse.
If You Are Being Abused:
A State By State List of Resources for Battered Women
Prepare for Emergencies:
- Be on the lookout for the red-flags that abuser is getting upset and may be ready to strike out in anger and try to come up with a couple reasons to get out of the house if you feel in imminent danger.
- Establish a code word, phrase or symbol for “call the police.” Teach it to everyone you are in contact with.
- Establish the safe areas of the house that you can retreat to if the abuser attacks. Avoid enclosed spaces with no exits. If you can, get to a room with a phone or a window.
Have an Escape Plan:
- Be ready to go at any time. Have the car gassed up, driver’s door unlocked, keys handy. Have emergency cash, documents and clothing stashed somewhere safe.
- Practice your escape.
- Memorize a list of emergency contacts including local shelters, police and domestic violence hotline.
- Find domestic violence shelters in your area and see which will accept your family. Here is a state-by-state list of Domestic Violence Shelters.
Protect Your Privacy:
- You are safest on a computer outside your home.
- Be cautious on email and IM if you are seeking help for domestic violence that way. Your abuser may be able to access your account.
- Change usernames and passwords for all accounts. Even if you believe that your abuser doesn’t have access to them, there are keylogging programs that can easily determine that information.
- Use corded phones rather than cordless telephones. Corded phones are harder to tap.
- Use a prepaid phone card or call collect so that the charges don’t appear on your phone bill.
- Check your cell phone settings as there are many technologies that your abuser can use to listen in on your calls or track your location, even if you do not answer the phone.
- Get your own cell phone that your abuser doesn’t know about.
Safety After You’ve Left:
- Get an unlisted phone number
- Use a PO Box rather than home address
- Apply for state’s address confidentiality program (it will confidentially forward all mail to your home)
- Cancel all old bank accounts and credit cards. When you open new accounts, use a new bank.
- You may want to get a restraining order, BUT DO NOT FEEL FALSELY COMFORTED BY ONE. Not all states enforce restraining orders. Contact your state’s Domestic Violence Coalition.
- Change your routine if you’re living in the same area.
If You Suspect Someone Is Being Abused:
If you suspect someone is being abused and you’re hesitating, please, open your mouth and ask. The victim may not want to talk about it and may tell you that you’re wrong, and maybe you are wrong, but sometimes, expressing concern may save a life. How do you talk to someone you suspect is being abused? Simple:
“I’ve noticed, this, this, and this (your reasons for suspecting domestic violence) and I’m concerned about you. Can I help?”
Maybe they won’t want to talk to you then, but knowing someone cares about them, sometimes that’s a port in a storm.
If you ask, be ready to support the person in a positive way.
- Talk to this person in private.
- Let go of all your preconceived notions of domestic violence and people who are abused.
- Remember, as frustrating as it is, there is no quick fix solution to domestic abuse.
- To empower this person, learn a little about domestic violence. Find out the services in your area that may be available.
When you are listening, remember:
- Support and respect this person and the decisions he or she makes. Even if you do not agree with them.
- Believe this person and tell them so.
- Validate his or her feelings.”Your feelings are very normal.”
- Do not judge this person when responding to what he or she says.
- Offer specific forms of help. “I can help you find a counselor” versus, “Let me know what you need.”
- Point out ways that he or she has been strong and courageous.
- Tell the victim that the abuse is not her fault and avoid bashing the abuser.