Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to establish power and control over an intimate partner, often taking the form of intimidation, physical violence, emotional degradation or economic abuse.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, don't hesitate to contact CASA for confidential advice.
USA: Staggering Facts
- Approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 of men are domestic violence survivors.
- Approximately a quarter of all women have been physically abused by a current or former partner. It is the most common cause of injury for women ages 18 to 44.
- More women were murdered by current or former partners between 2001 and 2012 than servicemen and women were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan… nearly twice as many.
USA: Economic & Health Costs
- Physically abused women are 70 percent more likely to have heart disease, 80 percent more likely to experience a stroke and 60 percent more likely to develop asthma. (Forbes, 2013 article)
- It costs $5.8 billion in direct medical and health care services. (Forbes, 2013 article)
- Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs. (Forbes, 2013 article)
- The cost of intimate partner violence in the US alone exceeds $8.3 billion per year, including $2.5 billion in lost productivity. (Forbes, 2013 article)
USA: Children & Families
- DV is third leading causes of homelessness for families.
- 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence each year… and male children witnessing their parents’ domestic violence are twice as likely as others to become abusers when they grow up. (Huffington Post, 2014 article)
LOCAL STATS (2016 data from the State of Florida)
- Pinellas County had 6,829 reported domestic violence offenses, an average of 18.7 domestic violence offenses per day.
- 11 victims were killed by their abusers in Pinellas County last year.
- Of the last 145 fatalities, only 14% of the victims had contact with a domestic violence center.
- Pinellas County has a 51% higher rate of reported offenses than in Hillsborough…. and actually had 429 more offenses than Hillsborough even though that county has 400,000 more people. Whether due to better reporting or a more severe problem, there is more stress put on agencies working on domestic violence issues.
Domestic violence is notoriously under-reported. The real rates of abuse are even larger than the official stats show!
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic abuse takes many forms. The following are examples of abusive behaviors. If you suspect abuse but do not witness one of these behaviors, do not discount it; call CASA at 727-895-4912.
Does your partner say things that shame, ridicule, or insult you:
- You’re stupid, fat, ugly, etc.
- You can’t do anything right.
- You’ll never get a job.
- You’re an unfit parent.
- You don’t deserve anything.
- Who would want you?
Does your partner do any of the following:
- Accuse you of having affairs
- Keep you from family and friends
- Confuse you with promises and lies
- Take your keys or damage your car
- Take or destroy important papers
Does your partner alarm you or make you feel uncomfortable by mistreating your pet:
- Not allow pet to receive care and food
- Intentionally hit, kick or throw pet
- Injure pet as a threat to you or your children
Does your partner control your ability to access money:
- Forbid you to work
- Forbid you to have money unless it is for a specific purchase, requiring detailed documentation after the purchase
- Require that you give up your paycheck
Does your partner do the following:
- Force you to have sex
- Force you into unwanted sexual practices
- Criticize your sexual performance
- Force you to have sex with others
- Withhold sex and affection as a tool to manipulate your behavior
Does your partner do any of the following:
- Hit, slap, shove, strangle, kick you or your children
- Threaten or hurt you with a weapon
- Throw objects at you
Warning Signs of an abusive relationship
Jealousy - In the beginning of a relationship, jealousy may seem like an expression of love or concern. As time passes, however, jealousy turns to entitlement and possession. This can include falsely accusing you of having sex with others. Jealous behavior begins to isolate the victim, who may stop seeing friends, family, and spiritual advisors in order to please the jealous partner.
- Use of Violence - Abusers may have a history of using force or violence to solve problems. They may display a quick temper, overreact to little problems and frustrations of everyday life, throw objects, punch walls, be cruel to animals, and have a criminal record for violence.
- Substance Abuse - There is a strong link between violence and abuse of alcohol and other drugs, but these are separate issues and need to be dealt with separately. The domestic abuser uses substance abuse to excuse offensive and hurtful behavior. The substance abuse does not cause, or excuse the abusive behavior.
- Rigid Gender Roles - With this there is a sense of entitlement to be "in charge" in the relationship. The abuser strongly subscribes to rigid, stereotypical gender roles. Tradition, culture and religion are used to justify abuse.
- Weapons - Availability of weapons, or threatening to use them, increases the risk of homicide and/or suicide. Note: The abuser may attempt to disguise a threat to use a weapon, for example, “cleaning” a weapon during an argument.
- Family History - Children who grow up in abusive families may believe that violence is normal behavior.
How Abusers Maintain Control
Domestic abuse affects people of all cultures, religions, ages, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds, and income levels. Victims are frequently blamed by friends, family, and coworkers, as well as by their abusers.
“Why does she stay?” is a common question. By blaming the survivor we take the focus from the abuser, whose behavior go unchecked. In fact, the community becomes an accomplice to the abuser, completing the isolation and fear experienced by the survivor.
Following is a partial list of factors that affect survivors making the decision to leave:
- Fear – The survivor realistically fears that the abuser will become more violent and maybe even become lethal if an attempt is made to leave. One of the most dangerous times for a survivor is when the decision has been made to leave the relationship. The abuser perceives a loss of power and control and lethality increases.
- Isolation – Because both the abusers and survivors may have limited contact with the outside world, survivors may not be aware of community resources like CASA that will support them as they prepare to leave.
- Finances – Reduced financial circumstances, the desire to provide for children, credit responsibilities, housing and transportation needs place a heavy financial burden on survivors. The abuser may have restricted educational and employment opportunities, leaving the survivor less employment options.
- Cultural, Social, and Spiritual Values – Family, cultural, and religious values may have a strong influence over a victim. If divorce is shameful to the family, if clergy does not support the survivor’s safety plan, or if the survivor’s cultural community is disapproving, the survivor’s decision to leave is much more difficult and requires tremendous courage.
- Love – Abusive relationships are not violent all the time. Along with the abuse there is a mix of good times, love, and hope. There are fond memories, emotional ties, and commitments. Survivors may not want the relationship to end, just the abuse.
Effects on Children
Children are the silent victims of domestic violence. Their voices may not be heard and their pain often goes unnoticed. Every child from a violent home is abused. Witnessing the two most important people in their life hurting and being hurt damages the core of the child's emotional being. The following is a partial list of the ramifications and consequences for children living with and witnessing domestic abuse:
- Increased miscarriages due to increased beatings and/or survivor's stress.
- Poor health due to survivor’s stress and lack of proper nutrition.
- Crying and irritability
- Sleep disturbances
- Digestive problems
- Failure to thrive
- More aggressive than other children
- More withdrawn than other children
- Impaired cognitive abilities
- Delays in verbal development
- Poor motor skill abilities
- General fearfulness, anxiety
- Stomachaches, nightmares
- Lack of bowel and bladder control over 3 years old
- Lack of confidence to begin new tasks
- Poor grades or in special classes
- Failure of one or more grade levels
- Poor social skills
- Low self-esteem
- General aggressiveness
- Violent outbursts of anger
- Withdrawn, dependent
- Bedwetting or nightmares
- Digestive problems, ulcers
- Poor grades, fails or quits school
- Low self-esteem
- Refuses to bring friends home
- Stays away from home
- Feels responsible for taking care of home and adult survivor
- Runs away from home
- Violent outbursts of anger, destroys property, abuses pets
- Poor judgment, irresponsible decision making
- Unable to communicate feelings
- Withdrawn, few friends
- Bedwetting or nightmares
- Ulcers, digestive problems
- Severe acne
- Violent with dating partners
- Joining in on beatings of adult survivor
- Tries to protect an adult survivor