The month of October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and our goal is to shed light on those currently facing violence at home and destigmatize this prevalent issue. Your family, friends, or loved ones may be survivors of domestic violence whether you are aware of it or not. There is a lot we do not understand about domestic violence so this is the perfect time to educate ourselves, empathize with survivors, and spread awareness.
Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. This can be mentally, physically, emotionally, and/or verbally.
The conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed domestic abuse to inflate around the world. Anytime families spend an extended period together, domestic violence increases. While being forced to spend 24/7 with an abuser in an enclosed space, survivors of domestic violence have experienced difficulty using their normal methods to remain safe. The United Nations urged governments worldwide to put women's safety first during their response to the pandemic.
Domestic Violence Against Women:
Domestic violence is a highly underreported and rarely prosecuted crime that usually has an extremely low conviction rate. This causes women not to report crimes against their abusers because they will likely be set free, if they are arrested at all. They are understandably fearful of the inevitable repercussions of reporting the abuse.
In the United States, 1 in 3 women experience severe intimate partner physical violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking, which causes injury, fear, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), use of crisis hotlines, and more. Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner.
Women are more likely to experience intimate partner violence if they are exposed to their mothers being abused by a partner, experience abuse during childhood, or live in an atmosphere that is accepting of violence, male privilege, and women’s subordinate roles.
Additionally, men are more likely to perpetrate violence if they have a history of child abuse, exposure to domestic violence against their mothers, harmful use of alcohol, attitudes accepting of violence, and a sense of entitlement over women.
Domestic Violence Against Men:
In the United States, 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner. Nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, which causes fear, concern for safety, PTSD, injury, contacting a crisis hotline, and more.
Men who were abused by women reported that the progression of abuse began with factors such as jealousy, control, and social isolation with housework, children, and economic issues intensifying that violence.
Domestic violence against men is even more underreported than violence against women. Why is that the case? This “nontraditional” type of violence happens more frequently than you may think. Although men are usually physically larger than women, that does not stop them from being abused. They may feel shame or embarrassment if they are larger than their partner and are not able to protect themselves.
Domestic Violence Against Minorities:
When we think of domestic violence, many of us have a narrow vision of what a survivor may look like. Domestic violence is prevalent in every community, and affects all people regardless of age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. Below you’ll find some eye-opening statistics:
- African American women experience intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white women.
- 41.2% of African American women and 36.3% of African American men have experienced intimate partner physical violence in their lifetimes.
- Over 84% of Native American women experience violence during their lifetimes.
- Native American women are three times more likely to experience sexual violence than any other ethnic group.
- 70% of people with disabilities experience some form of abuse by an intimate partner.
- Women with disabilities have a 40% greater risk of intimate partner violence, especially severe violence, than women without disabilities.
- Approximately 63% of homeless women have experienced domestic violence in their adult lives.
- 28% of families were left homeless because of domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Effects on Children:
In homes where there is reoccurring acts of domestic violence between partners, there is a 45% to 60% chance of child abuse occurring as well. Whether or not they are also attacked, children witness 68% to 80% of domestic assaults, something no child should have to endure. The psychological toll of witnessing domestic violence can have on kids includes fear of harm, anxiety, sadness, guilt, anger, shame, and much more.
Any traumatic event that a child experiences is forever etched into their minds causing difficulties growing up because they are not just bystanders, they are victims.
A child who has seen their parents fight, argue, and/or physically harm each other may think that is what a normal relationship looks like. They are unable to distinguish between a healthy relationship and a dysfunctional one, which causes turmoil within their own relationships as adults. Many find themselves in the same shoes as their abused parent or the abuser because that is all they have ever known.
What Penny Appeal USA is Doing:
In light of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the grand opening of our first ever domestic violence shelter, we invited survivors, witnesses, and allies in the fight against domestic abuse to participate in a photo series that explores sources of strength. They hope that by sharing their resiliency, they can remind you of yours. #ShareYourStrength
Our domestic violence shelter is open seven-days a week, 24-hours a day providing victims of domestic abuse access to support, safety and counseling. This space is specifically designed to assist women in filing petitions for protection, and to also provide temporary housing, food, and clothing as the need arises.
How You Can help:
This October, support Penny Appeal USA’s domestic violence shelter in honor of a loved one who may be suffering in silence. Help provide safety for women and their children who need a secure place to lay their heads. Here are three ways you can fight domestic abuse this month:
- Become a part of our Strength Series by posting an image of yourself on social media with an item that makes you feel strong using: #ShareYourStrength
- Give a monthly gift of $30 now to provide hygiene kits to survivors in the shelter.
- Spread awareness about domestic violence and help save a life by sharing our 24-hour domestic violence hotline: (704) 764-1773
Click here to get involved.