October is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This year, it’s more important than ever to raise awareness about this widespread problem due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Domestic violence typically consists of a pattern of abusive behaviors that an intimate partner uses against another in order to gain, maintain or regain power and control in the relationship. These behaviors are also used to frighten, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, often injure and sometimes kill the current or former partner.
Domestic violence — also known as intimate partner violence — can take many forms, like physical abuse, emotional and verbal abuse, sexual abuse, sexual coercion, reproductive coercion, financial abuse, digital abuse or stalking, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
This problem can affect anyone of any age, gender, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, and it has touched nearly every community in the country, including right here in Appalachia.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually. In the United States, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, and 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men have experienced severe intimate partner physical violence, contact sexual violence and/or stalking.
Domestic violence also accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime. 19 percent of domestic violence cases involve a weapon, and the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
This year, though, the problem is only expected to worsen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People have become more isolated from one another in order to prevent the spread of the virus, and economic hardships and feelings of stress have intensified for many households across the country.
Therefore, we must raise awareness about the examples of domestic violence. Some of them include:
• Telling you that you never do anything right.
• Showing extreme jealousy of your friends time spent away from them.
• Preventing or discouraging you from spending time with friends, family members or peers.
• Insulting, demeaning or shaming you, especially in front of other people.
• Preventing you from making your own decisions, including about working or attending school.
• Controlling finances in the household without discussion, including taking your money or refusing to provide money for necessary expenses.
• Pressuring you to have sex or perform sexual acts you’re not comfortable with.
• Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol.
• Intimidating you through threatening looks or actions.
• Using the Internet to bully, harass, stalk, intimidate or control you.
• Stalking (watching, following or harassing) you repeatedly to the point where you feel afraid or unsafe.
• Insulting your parenting or threatening to harm or take away your children or pets.
• Pressuring, guilting or shaming you for having or wanting children, or for not having or wanting children.
• Intimidating you with weapons like guns, knives, bats or mace.
• Destroying your belongings or your home.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or shows warning signs of potential partner abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or visit, www.thehotline.org. For serious partner violence situations, call 911.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides free and confidential resources and support for anyone in the U.S. affected by intimate partner violence or their loved ones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It also offers free and confidential online chat for people unable to talk on the phone.
It’s important to remember that no one deserves to experience any kind of abuse for any reason, including you, and there are resources available if you need help.