Written by: Beth Volz, originally published in The Union September 30, 2021.
In general, people don’t want to talk about domestic violence, but it is much more prevalent than most people realize. The recent media coverage about Gabby Petito, whose remains were found in a Wyoming national park following an altercation with her boyfriend, has brought the issue into the national conversation.
(It should be noted that Ms. Petito was a white woman, and that white victims typically receive more attention than indigenous people and people of color.)
On average, 20 people per minute are abused by an intimate partner in the United States. That’s nearly 29,000 people per day nationwide.
According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, one in four women and one in seven men are abused by an intimate partner during their lifetimes. Indeed, intimate partner abuse is so prevalent that chances are you know someone who is, or who has been, a victim. One reason it remains so widespread is that there is a general lack of understanding about the myriad aspects surrounding it. Put succinctly, it’s complicated.
We often hear the question, “Why don’t they leave?” or “Why don’t they report their abuse to the police?” Many people aren’t familiar with the pattern of power and control abusers wield over their victims. One of the most effective ways abusers keep that power and control over their victims is through an insidious, systematic process of psychological manipulation that often eventually leads to physical violence. Abusers employ several tactics (which are remarkably similar to those used on prisoners of war), such as:
Fear: Fear of escalation of violence and retaliation for working with law enforcement — abusers often threaten to harm or kill their victims’ family, friends, and even their pets.
Brainwashing/destroying sense of self-worth: Abusers typically begin to break down their victims’ sense of self through increasingly frequent put-downs and name-calling.
Guilt: Establishing guilt in the victim’s mind is also an effective method of mind control. Abusers often make their victims feel guilty for not constantly pleasing them.
Gaslighting: Making their victims believe that their feelings are unjustified, so that the victims begin to question their own beliefs and feelings.
Cycle of abuse: The perpetrator will sometimes offer a small kindness or apology after an abusive incident, only to repeat the cycle of abuse over and over again.
Isolation: Abusers methodically isolate their victims from family and friends so that eventually, victims may end up with no support system.
Domestic abuse doesn’t affect merely the victim, nor only involve law enforcement personnel. It also has far-reaching impacts on entire communities in terms of lost productivity at work, medical costs, and the safety of all residents.
Awareness and community action are key to preventing and reducing domestic violence.
If you are interested in being part of the solution, visit us at http://www.cbv.org to find out how you can get involved.
You might want to check out our Prevention Team’s Nevada County Community Action Team composed of enthusiastic, supportive adults and youth who want to help ignite social change.
If you are interested, contact our prevention coordinator, Craig Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beth Volz is an outreach support specialist with Community Beyond Violence.
SEE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE : https://www.theunion.com/opinion/columns/beth-volz-domestic-abuse-is-all-too-common/