Domestic Violence

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Domestic violence (DV) affects at least one in four American families. It costs businesses millions of dollars each year in lost productivity, causes millions of injuries to women and men, and can range in severity from name-calling to death. Domestic violence doesn’t have to be tolerated, but stopping DV starts with knowing how to recognize it and what you can do about it.

The Facts
  • Victims of DV come from every socioeconomic level and walk of life; the stereotype of victims being wives of low-income, working-class men is well outdated (if it was ever true).
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men will be victims at some point in their lives.
  • Violence against women costs up to $72.8 million each year due to lost productivity.
  • As many as 324,000 women each year are victims of DV while they are pregnant.
  • 1 in 5 teenage girls reports being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  • 30% of teens worry about their physical safety in a relationship, and 20% of those in serious relationships report having been hit, slapped, or pushed by their boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • 15% of U.S. adults admit to having been a victim of DV, and 60% claim to know someone who has been a victim.
  • DV causes an estimated 2,000,000 injuries to women and 600,000 to men every year.
  • According to a 2006 study, 74% of all murder-suicides in the U.S. involved an intimate partner.
  • Nearly 40% of U.S. adults report having experienced one or more signs of abuse, including name-calling, public humiliation, threats, isolation from friends and family, physical violence, and rape.
  • Children exposed to DV are 15 times more likely to be victims of child abuse, are at an increased risk of sexual abuse, and often suffer from a variety of physical and mental effects including insomnia, loss of appetite, academic problems, social inadequacy, loss of friends, and psychological disorders.
  • Children who grow up exposed to DV or any other kind of abuse are much more likely to become abusers or victims themselves, and may suffer lifelong effects such as alcoholism or drug addiction.
  • Up to 62% of abusers arrested for DV are arrested again within two years.

Sign of domestic violence

Do you know someone who is being abused? You might if:
  • They check in frequently with their partner to let them know where they are and what they’re doing.
  • They rarely visit with family or friends, even though they used to visit frequently.
  • The seem to get injured a lot, no matter how minor, with a great number of excuses for their injuries.
  • They often wear clothing that may be hiding bruises or scars and that doesn’t match the season or setting, such as long sleeves in the summer or oversized sunglasses indoors.
  • There is a noticeable personality change in the person, such as a formerly confident, outgoing person suddenly becoming insecure and withdrawn.
Domestic violence includes name-calling, insults, public humiliation, control of a victim’s life (including isolation from friends and family, being told when and where they can go even for basic errands, etc.), physical violence including slaps, shoves, punches, and scratches, and sexual assault including molestation and rape. It causes injuries ranging from psychological trauma to bruises to broken bones and internal bleeding, and if allowed to continue it will most likely escalate – even to the point of death.

What You Can Do If You’re a Victim

If you are in an abusive relationship, develop a safety plan. Similar to an emergency preparedness plan for natural disasters, a safety plan can help an abuse victim take back some measure of control in his or her life.
  • Designate a “safe room” in your home where you can go during an abuse incident, preferably one with more than one exit.
  • Keep a copy of all important documents for you and your children, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, immigration paperwork, etc., along with some cash and a spare set of home and car keys, in a safe location away from the home (a trusted friend or relative’s home, or a safe deposit box, for example).
  • If your abuser gets physical with you, curl up into a ball in a corner, with your hands interlocked behind your head. Not only is a smaller target harder to hit, but this will help minimize the severity of any injury inflicted.
  • Designate a “safe” word or phrase that you can use in conversation as well as a “safe” signal, and tell your trusted neighbors, friends, and relatives. That way even if you can’t call 911, they can call for you.
  • Consider getting a restraining order against your abuser, even if you’re married. As many as 86% of women who obtain one say that the abuse diminishes greatly or even stops altogether.
  • Get out – before it’s too late. The longer you allow the abuse to continue, the harder it will be to leave safely, and the more likely things will escalate. Don’t allow your abuser to put you in the hospital or worse.
If you have been abused, call the Sheriff’s Station at (661) 948-8466 (in Lancaster; in Palmdale (661) 272-2400). If you are in immediate danger of physical harm or if your abuser has just inflicted serious injuries, call 911. If you don’t feel safe at your home, or if you think you might be abused again, go to a trusted neighbor’s, friend’s, or relative’s house to wait for law enforcement.

If you need emergency shelter, counseling, or other services, call Valley Oasis at (661) 945-6736. Valley Oasis is the Antelope Valley’s local domestic violence shelter, providing services to both female and male victims of DV and their children. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233) for help and referrals to resources for domestic violence victims, no matter where you are in the country.

What You Can Do to Help a Victim

If you believe someone you know may be a victim of DV, you can help. Show your concern; many times victims are afraid of being stigmatized and won’t reach out on their own. Ask the person if they’re okay and if there’s anything going on. Listen to what they have to say. Offer help. Don’t wait for them to come to you, don’t judge or blame them for staying in the relationship, don’t give advice, and don’t place conditions on your support. Remember, you are the stepstool, but the victim still needs to actually take that first step toward ending the cycle of abuse.

To learn more about helping DV victims or to get resources and referrals that you can pass on to the victim, you may call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at the number above or visit their website.