Protecting Yourself From Domestic Violence
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is defined as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.” Domestic violence not only includes physical abuse like hitting, punching, kicking, and slapping but also psychological abuse. Psychological abuse or emotional abuse can include behaviors such threatening, controlling, isolating, mocking, stalking, and intimidating a partner.
Domestic Violence Can Happen to Anyone
Domestic violence affects people of all genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. Often, when one imagines a victim of domestic violence, a woman comes to mind. However, men are almost as likely to be victims of violence at the hand of a partner as women are. On average, one out of every three women and one out of every four men are victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives.
The sad reality is that many couples are in a vicious cycle of abuse. The abuser harms the victim then later apologizes and promises to change. The victim stays with the abuser and does not seek help or alert authorities, and the abuser eventually strikes again. The cycle repeats time after time. Of course, leaving an abusive spouse is not as easy as it seems to an outsider.
Why People Stay in Abusive Relationships
Victims of domestic violence may be hesitant to leave the relationship for many reasons. They may feel embarrassed by the abuse or ashamed by what has happened. They may not want their friends and family to know about the abuse so they do not reach out for help. Another reason that victims stay in abusive relationships is because their self-esteem has been damaged to the point they do not realize they are being abused or do not believe they are worthy of respect and safety. This is especially true of people who grew up in abusive or violent homes. In extreme cases, sufferers may believe they cannot escape the abusive partner. The abuser may threaten harm against the partner’s friends or other family members if the victim tells anyone about the abuse, involves the authorities, or attempts to leave the relationship. The abuser may even threaten to seriously injure or kill their partner or themselves.
There Are Options if You or Someone You Know is in an Abusive Relationship
Many victims of abuse are reliant on their partner financially or have nowhere to stay if they leave. It is important to know that shelters and programs exist to assist those individuals who are attempting to leave a violent relationship. The number for the National Domestic Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
If domestic violence has become a serious issue in your family, our compassionate Kane County family law attorneys can help. We will work with you to find available programs and resources, as well as to secure an order of protection against your abuser if needed. Our team will even help you decide if and when to file for divorce from an abusive spouse. Call 630-232-9700 for a confidential consultation at our firm today.