The numbers are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) factsheet on intimate partner violence, about one in five women report they have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner. The number of men is approximately one in seven.
Domestic violence can affect anyone of any age, gender or sexual orientation. The abuse can be physical, emotional/psychological or sexual and may vary in severity and frequency. Domestic violence is about power, where one partner consistently makes the effort to maintain control over the other.
Domestic violence is not always obvious, as it is when there are injuries from physical abuse. Domestic violence can be in the form of insults, threats, stalking and sexual coercion in addition to physical abuse. Abusers often use many different tactics. Abusers make use of technology to control, harass and stalk their current or former partners. Smartphones, computers and other electronic devices may be used to track and monitor them. An abusive relationship can destroy a person’s self-worth. Victims may feel helpless and experience anxiety and depression, for which professional help is often needed.
Children are more likely to be abused and/or neglected in homes where there is domestic violence. Children who are victims of, or who witness domestic violence, are at risk for physical and mental health problems. A doctor can recommend a mental health professional who works with children who have been exposed to violence or abuse, or call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 800-422-4453.
The signs of domestic violence can be difficult to recognize. Abusive behavior may start slowly and escalate significantly over time. Warning signs of an abuser include, but are not limited to:
- Extreme jealousy
- A bad temper
- Cruelty to animals
- Verbally abusive
- Controlling behavior
For more information on warning signs, see the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website, www.ncadv.org.
If you are concerned about an older adult (age 60 or older), and have reason to believe he/she is a victim of elder abuse, neglect, self-neglect or financial exploitation call the Massachusetts-based Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275. Once the report is taken they will forward the report to the applicable local Protective Services Agency (such as OCES) for screening, investigation and service planning.
The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence believes that domestic violence is preventable through comprehensive technical assistance, training, resource development, and research. For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).