October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence continues to be a serious problem throughout our country, affecting individuals of all ages in every community.
According to the CDC, about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and reported at least one impact of the violence. Over 43 million women and about 38 million men experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime as well.
More data and early prevention findings can also be found from the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NIPSVS) site here as well as in their Technical Package of Programs, Policies and Practices here.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, anyone can be an abuser. One study has shown that 90% of abusers do not have a criminal record and are usually law-abiding outside of the home. There is not one typical personality of an abuser, but they often display common characteristics. Some of these characteristics include:
- An abuser often denies the existence or minimizes the seriousness of the violence and its effect on the victim and other family members.
- An abuser objectifies the victim and often sees them as their property or sexual objects.
- An abuser has low self-esteem and feels powerless and ineffective in the world. He or she may appear successful, but internally, they feel inadequate.
- An abuser externalizes the causes of their behavior. They blame their violence on circumstances such as stress, their partner's behavior, a "bad day," on alcohol, drugs, or other factors.
- An abuser may be pleasant and charming between periods of violence and is often seen as a "nice person" to others outside the relationship.
Teen dating violence is also unfortunately very common. About 1 in 12 students experienced physical dating violence, and about 1 in 12 experienced sexual dating violence throughout 2020. Female students; lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) students; and students who are unsure of their sexual identity had the highest reports of any and both forms of dating violence.
Individuals with the following risk factors may be more likely to experience violence in a relationship:
- Marital conflict–fights, tension, and other struggles
- Jealousy, possessiveness, and negative emotion within an intimate relationship
- Marital instability–divorces or separations
- Dominance and control of the relationship by one partner over the other
- Economic stress
- Unhealthy family relationships and interactions
- Association with antisocial and aggressive peers
- Having few friends and being isolated from other people
- History of experiencing physical discipline as a child
The goal for domestic violence prevention is to stop it from happening in the first place. Promoting healthy, respectful, and nonviolent relationships and communities overall can help to reduce the occurrence of domestic violence. This can also prevent the harmful and long-lasting effects of domestic violence on individuals, families, and the community.
ALL forms of domestic violence are preventable, and strategies to promote, healthy, respectful, and non-violent relationships are an important part of that prevention. Learn more about preventing domestic violence here.
If you or someone you know needs help, resources are always available and can be easily accessed below:
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.
Love Is Respect National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline
Call 1-866-331-9474 or TTY 1-866-331-8453.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s (RAINN) National Sexual Assault Hotline
Call 800-656-HOPE (4673) to connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
Call the toll free hotline at 1-888-772-7227.
Women in Need, Inc.-Franklin and Fulton County
Call (717) 264-3056 for the local office or the 24-Hour Hotline at 717-264-4444 or 800-621-6660.
Visit Women in Need’s link above for additional resources, including emergency counseling, individual counselors, support groups, and community education.
Visit rainn.org to chat one-on-one with a trained RAINN support specialist, any time 24/7
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) is a comprehensive source of information for on domestic violence.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) provides information, resources, and research on all aspects of sexual violence prevention and intervention.
PreventConnect is a national project of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. PreventConnect’s goal is to prevent sexual assault and relationship violence by building a community of practice to develop, implement, and evaluate prevention initiatives.
Additional CDC resources for domestic violence can be found here.