The #1 Thing

That stats are staggering:

  • “Approximately, 40% of California women experience physical intimate partner violence in their lifetimes” (California Women’s Health Survey, 1997–2003)
  • Young women, ages 18–24, “were significantly more likely (11%) to be victims of physical intimate partner violence in the past year…” (California Women’s Health Survey, 1997–2003)

Domestic violence occurs in intimate partner relationships and can include physical, sexual, and psychological attacks. Those inflicting abuse can be male or female and attack to gain, sustain, or regain control (National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, 2018).

While each relationship is different abuse can be (Break the Cycle, 2014):

  • Physical — e.g. hitting, shoving, biting, using a weapon
  • Verbal — e.g. insults, constant monitoring, intimidation
  • Sexual — e.g. rape, coercion, restricting access to birth control
  • Digital — e.g. cyberbullying, checking cell phones, demanding passwords
  • Stalking — e.g. repeatedly watched or harassed, giving unwanted gifts
  • Financial — e.g. taking or withholding money, prohibiting partner from earning or spending money

Domestic violence not only affects victims and survivors but families, communities, and social systems. Approximately, $2.3–7 billion is spent on medical costs nationally (Brown, Finkelstein & Mercy, 2008). At the workplace, domestic violence can lead to “absenteeism, impaired job performance, and loss of experienced employees” (CDC/NCIPC, 2003, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, 2012). Children who are affected by exposure to domestic violence experience development issues in the areas of interpersonal skills, psychological, emotional, and behavior problems (Carlson, 2000).

For those who have not experienced domestic violence, it is often hard to understand the nuances of why a person stays, how a person ends up in an abusive relationship, etc. To assist, we can be supportive, express concern, be non-judgmental, acknowledge that he or she is in a difficult situation, and encourage participation in activities outside of the relationship (National Domestic Violence Hotline). We can help our friends develop a safety plan, encourage getting help or guidance, and offer to help pack the house, car or truck when they are ready to leave. Most of all, we can remember that we are not saviors and it is up to the person involved to decide when to leave the abusive relationship.

The Domestic Violence Awareness Project (DVAP) has the #1Thing campaign. Collectively, our #1Thing to change ourselves, the system, or be a beacon of light “can lead to real social transformation” (National Resource Center on Domestic Violence). Our collective One Things are valuable for systems advocacy. As we acknowledge Domestic Violence Awareness month, let us take this knowledge and understanding into every month.

If you are in danger, call 911 Or reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1­-800–799–7233 or TTY 1­-800–787–3224.