A few weeks ago, I was invited to join a small lunch-and-learn event at the local YWCA. Along with a group of Cincinnati-based bloggers, I learned about the organization’s mission (“Eliminating racism, empowering women”) and how they help women and children dealing with domestic violence.
Really valuable and important stuff. I meant to write about it, but after the luncheon, I got distracted by work, family, the usual, and it fell off my radar.
After reading, hearing and seeing what Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice did to his then fiancee (now wife) Janay, intimate partner violence landed smack dab in the middle of my radar again.
I recalled what the YWCA experts told us about women and children being physically and emotional abused by their boyfriends, partners and husbands.
That one in four women will experience domestic violence and, on average, more than three women are murdered by their partners in the United States every day.
That women make up 84 percent of spousal abuse victims and 86 percent of victims in cases involving partners or boyfriends. Studies have found that men account for 75 percent of perpetrators in domestic violence cases.
That children are witnessing violence in their homes at record rates, with 15.5 million children having witnessed it at least once in their homes. Seven million children live in homes in which severe intimate partner violence has occurred.
That because children learn from social cues, witnessing and experiencing violence in the home at such young ages can often result in distorted perceptions about dating and healthy relationships.
And as horrible as the problem is—for both the women and children who suffer at the hands of their abuser, as Janay Rice did—the solution is not nearly as black-and-white as “just leaving.” For many women in these situations, barriers to leaving abusive partners include:
- Fear—of losing your pets, home, or children; or of escalated violence and even death.
- Lack of resources—financial, shelter, community support, caregiving, childcare, etc.
- Family responsibilities and values—a strong sense that you should keep the family intact, not wanting to disappoint others, the need to care for elderly or disabled relatives.
- Feelings and beliefs—that the abuser will change, that love can conquer the behavior, low self-esteem, and so on.
Just search Twitter for #WhyIStayed to see real women sharing their own reasons for remaining in an abusive relationship—as well as #WhyILeft.
If you need help or support in your own domestic violence situation, I’d urge you to check out your local YWCA. For example, the one here in greater Cincinnati offers so many options:
crisis line assistance and shelter services, transitional housing, court advocacy, training for workplaces and much more.
If someone you know is dealing with partner abuse, I highly recommend checking out these tips from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, including how to support a friend or family member, your teen or your coworker.
And anyone who wants to help the cause, here’s one easy, free thing you can do: Donate your old mobile phone to HopeLine, a program from Verizon Wireless that connects survivors of domestic violence to vital resources, funds organizations nationwide and protects the environment.
Since the program launched in 2001, HopeLine has collected 10.8 million+ phones nationwide, given $21.4 million+ in cash grants given to domestic violence organizations, and donated 180,000 HopeLine phones donated to victims and survivors. Learn how to donate a phone to HopeLine.
3 thoughts on “#WhyIStayed: Bringing Intimate Partner Violence into the Light”
Susan, thanks for this post. It’s such an important topic!
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