- Domestic Violence (DV) is a pattern of behaviors aimed at maintaining power and control over another person. It encompasses threats and/or actions of physical or sexual intimidation and/or violence, financial control, emotional abuse, and withholding of privilege.
- Individuals who experience domestic violence are at higher risk of experiencing a range of mental health conditions.
- It’s common for individuals who are being abused to think that they did something to cause the abuse. The person being harmed didn’t cause it, and is not responsible for controlling or “curing” it. Resources DO exist to help the individuals being harmed.
3 Key Points
It’s estimated that in the United States, an average of 20 people experience intimate partner physical violence every minute. Victims and perpetrators can be of any race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or religion. Abuse can occur at any socioeconomic or educational level. For a variety of reasons, it can be difficult for individuals to identify their situation as abuse. It can be helpful to review the Duluth’s Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs - Power and Control Wheel for descriptions of various forms of abuse.
Victims of abuse (physical or otherwise) often experience depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, low self-esteem, and difficulty trusting others. Children who witness abuse in the home are susceptible to these same concerns. Depending on their age, they may show regressive behaviors (bedwetting, thumb sucking, increased separation anxiety), or may complain of physical symptoms such as stomachaches and headaches. They may show social withdrawal, or increased irritability and anger outbursts.
It’s often asked, “Why don’t they just leave the situation?” There are many barriers to “just leaving.” These include fear of increased violence, economic necessity, isolation from support systems, and lack of resources. Victims may believe that the abuser will change. They may fear not having a safe place to go for themselves and children/pets. They may worry that the abuser will be put in jail, deported, and lose the family income.
COVID-19 means more social distancing, which can exacerbate the social isolation that often occurs in situations of abuse. Individuals may experience additional stressors related to job loss or other economic vulnerability, and the loss of school structure for children. During this time, help remains available. Shelters are still open, taking additional precautions for health of the victim and/or children involved. Many will also offer resources for pet care. Connecting to a shelter or domestic violence hotline can provide the victim with support and resource identification.