We’re debunking the taboos, stigmas, and misconceptions that accompany abuse and violence
One in three women will be a victim of domestic or sexual violence at some point in her lifetime, and each day an average of three women die at the hands of someone who claimed to love them. Domestic violence affects us all; victims are our family members, neighbors, coworkers, and friends. All of us – women, children, and men – must be part of the solution.
Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics.
The majority of perpetrators are someone known to the victim. Approximately 8 out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, such as in the case of intimate partner sexual violence or acquaintance rape.
The term “date rape” is sometimes used to refer to acquaintance rape. Perpetrators of acquaintance rape might be a date, but they could also be a classmate, a neighbor, a friend’s significant other, or any number of different roles. It’s important to remember that dating, instances of past intimacy, or other acts like kissing do not give someone consent for increased or continued sexual contact.
The better question is “Why does the abuser choose to abuse?”
The deck is stacked against victims as they navigate safety:
Abusive partners work very hard to keep victims trapped in the relationship. They may try to isolate the victim from friends and family, thereby reducing the people and places where the survivor can go for support. Through various tactics of financial abuse, abusive partners create financial barriers to safety.
There is a real fear of death or more abuse if they leave. In fact, a victim’s risk of getting killed greatly increases when they are in the process of leaving or have just left. On average, three women die at the hands of a current or former intimate partner every day.
Through “gaslighting,” abusive partners cause victims to feel like they are responsible for the abuse. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that abusers use to confuse and shift blame onto the victim. This often causes the victim to doubt their sanity and feel like they are responsible for the abuse and therefore able to stop it.
Abuse takes an emotional and physical toll over time, which can translate to additional health issues that make leaving more difficult.
Survivors often report that they want the abuse to end, not the relationship. A survivor may stay with or return to an abusive partner because they believe the abuser’s promises to change.
Yes. The victim is male in 20% of the reported cases of domestic violence. Pervasive stereotypes that men are always the abuser and women are always the victim discriminates against survivors who are men and discourages them from coming forward with their stories. Survivors of domestic violence who are men are less likely to seek help or report abuse. Many are unaware of services for men, and there is a common misconception that domestic violence programs only serve women.
Every 73 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted and every 9 minutes that victim is a child. Every day, hundreds of Americans are affected by sexual violence.
Yes, domestic violence affects everyone. LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.
Some abusers are able to exert complete control over a victim’s every action without ever using violence or only using subtle threats of violence. All types of abuse are devastating to victims.
Abuse is rooted in power and control. Abuse is intentional. It is a myth that someone who abuses their partner is “out of control;” in fact, they are in good control (how often do they “lose control” at work? With a friend? With other family members?) and purposely choose tactics to control their partner. Power is hard to give up or share, and abusive actions are purposeful with the goal of gaining power and control over a partner. This power and control can be exerted in many forms including emotional, psychological, financial, sexual, and sometimes physical.
What do you think are common ways that offenders use power and control over victims?
Strategically isolating victims is a common tactic to gain power and control over a victim. Perpetrators may trap their partners by withholding, lying about, or hiding financial assets, a form of financial abuse.
Often times, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse put on their mental armor and hide their reality behind a smile. It is likely that you have unknowingly crossed paths with a victim, as the signs of violence are often difficult to detect. If we wish to make our community a safe and thriving place, it is also our responsibility to pause and notice when someone might be silently crying out for help.