The Remembrance of Heroism Through Sacrifice
- May 24, 2023
It’s not an easy topic to discuss and not one that you would typically find on the cover of Webb Weekly. However, it is difficult to consider yourself a ‘Family-Oriented Newspaper’ without acknowledging how domestic violence affects families. It affects families right here in our cities, towns, and boroughs. I feel that we would be
It’s not an easy topic to discuss and not one that you would typically find on the cover of Webb Weekly. However, it is difficult to consider yourself a ‘Family-Oriented Newspaper’ without acknowledging how domestic violence affects families. It affects families right here in our cities, towns, and boroughs. I feel that we would be doing a disservice to not only victims of domestic violence but our entire community if we don’t acknowledge the impact that domestic violence has on our communities and talk about signs, prevention, and support.
– Dolores ‘Dee’ Wilson – 3/22/54-6/23/96
– Jenifer Marie Powell – 6/17/79-9/30/97
– Jennifer Witmer – 4/11/65-1/18/98
– Miriam Zambie Illes – 4/15/51-1/15-99
– Tramaine M. Glisson – 3/22/78-6/12/99
– Susan Yasipour – 5/28/96-8/24/01
– Kalib Nash Blasé – 4/30/97-4/30/02
– Stephanie Sees – 2/15/70-7/13/02
– Brenda Lee Jacobs – 9/21/64-12/27/03
– Traci L. Wertz – 6/30/70-8/11/04
– Melanie Seitzer-Salgado – 11/7/69-9/25/04
– Christine Montgomery – 6/3/72-3/23/05
– Cherilyn Kephart – 8/1/74-2/21/13
– Lynn Wright – 5/25/60-10/25/13
– Kristina Pope – 12/12/92-7/7/15
– Michelle Inch – 2/8/84-1/26/16
– Scott ‘Scotty’ M. Cole – 6/15/81-6/22/17
– Sonja M. Heck – 3/2/69-8/16/18
– Luke A. Beatty – 6/5/93-8/25/18
– Kristina Paige Walters – 3/24/90-3/3/20
These women, children, and men were our neighbors, family, and members of our own community. They all lost their lives to domestic violence. Most never saw their 40th birthday. They deserve to be acknowledged and not forgotten.
Each year, in October, advocates, survivors, and supporters recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). It provides an opportunity to remember victims of domestic violence, raise awareness of what domestic violence is, how to recognize it, and what we can all do to collectively prevent it.
According to the PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV), 121 victims died from domestic violence in 2021 in Pennsylvania. In the last ten years, more than 1,600 lives have been lost at the hands of domestic violence-related incidents in PA.
According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), on a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive 19,000 calls. That’s a call every 13 minutes.
Unfortunately, we don’t talk about domestic violence (DV) enough. And because of that, DV remains and is allowed to thrive. To support survivors and prevent domestic violence in the future, we all need to normalize talking about it openly and frankly.
So let’s talk about some statistics, according to NNEDV.
On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. This equates to more than 10 million women and men in one year.
1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.
1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (e.g., slapping, shoving, pushing) and, in some cases, might not be considered “domestic violence.”
1 in 7 women and 1 in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner.
1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner. Data is unavailable on male victims.
1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence (e.g., beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes.
Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.
19% of domestic violence involves a weapon.
Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.
Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.
1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) says, “Anyone can be an abuser. They come from all groups, all cultures, all religions, all economic levels, and all backgrounds. They can be your neighbor, your pastor, your friend, your child’s teacher, a relative, a coworker — anyone. It is important to note that the majority of abusers are only violent with their current or past intimate partners. One study found 90% of abusers do not have criminal records and abusers are generally law-abiding outside the home.”
What Traits Do Abusers Have in Common?
There is no one typical, detectable personality of an abuser. However, they do often display common characteristics.
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.
What Are the “Warning Signs” of an Abuser?
Red flags and warning signs of an abuser include but are not limited to:
– Extreme jealousy
– A bad temper
– Cruelty to animals
– Verbal abuse
– Extremely controlling behavior
– Antiquated beliefs about the roles of women and men in relationships
– Forced sex or disregard for their partner’s unwillingness to have sex
– Sabotage of birth control methods or refusal to honor agreed-upon methods
– Blaming the victim for anything bad that happens
– Sabotage or obstruction of the victim’s ability to work or attend school
– Controls all the finances
– Abuse of other family members, children, or pets
– Accusations of the victim flirting with others or having an affair
– Control of what the victim wears and how they act
– Demeaning the victim either privately or publicly
– Embarrassment or humiliation of the victim in front of others
– Harassment of the victim at work
So, with all this information and stats, what can we do to help? NNEDV recommends the following:
1. NEVER victim blame.
Abuse is never the victim’s fault. As a society, we continue to place blame on victims by asking, “What did she do to deserve that?” or “What was she wearing?” or “Why was she there?” or “Why couldn’t she just keep her knees together?” Yet we do not ask these questions to victims of other crimes. We must stop asking these questions of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.
ASK: How can we shift the culture away from blaming the victim and instead blame the perpetrator? Why does the abuser choose the abuse?
RESPOND: Believe, support, and trust survivors. Instead of second-guessing their experiences, let’s rightfully place the responsibility on abusers and perpetrators to end the abuse. Domestic violence is rooted in power and control.
2. Hold offenders accountable.
Holding offenders accountable can take many forms. If it is safe to do so, call offenders out on their abusive actions and impose social consequences, like telling them they’re not welcome for family dinner or to hang out until the abusive behavior stops. Stop excusing behavior with “boys will be boys” or “[the perpetrator] would never do something like that.” Community accountability can make a significant impact.
ASK: How can we hold offenders accountable and support survivors?
RESPOND: Tell the perpetrator that their behavior is abuse. Healthy relationships are rooted in equality, respect, and nonviolence.
3. Challenge widely-held perceptions about domestic violence.
Unfortunately, misconceptions about domestic violence persist – such as the notions that survivors can “just leave,” that heterosexual, cisgender women are the only victims; that domestic violence only includes physical violence; or that domestic violence is a “private, family matter.” Each one of these myths persists, despite our work to challenge these perceptions. Through NNEDV’s #31n31 campaign in October 2016, we busted several of these myths – check out the full campaign on Pinterest.
ASK: Why can’t survivors “just leave?” Other than physical violence, what other forms of abuse can domestic violence take?
RESPOND: Survivors must think about their own physical safety, financial security, the safety and welfare of their children and pets, potential housing, and where they can “just leave” to, among myriad other issues. Domestic violence can include physical, financial, emotional, psychological, or sexual abuse.
4. Voice that domestic violence is an intersectional issue.
Domestic violence does not happen in a vacuum. Survivors experiencing domestic violence often experience other “–isms” (e.g., sexism, racism, classism, heteronormativism, etc.), compounding negative impacts on victims. Collectively, these –isms play a devastating role in perpetuating gender-based violence. In 2016, a study was released that found that there is racial bias in media coverage of celebrity domestic violence.
ASK: How do you think different oppressions and privileges affect survivors’ experiences?
RESPOND: When coupled with other –isms, victims face additional barriers to safety.
5. Understand that abuse is rooted in power and control.
Abuse is intentional. It is a myth that someone who abuses their partner is “out of control;” in fact, they are in good control (How often do they “lose control” at work? With a friend? With other family members?) and purposely choose tactics to control their partner. Power is hard to give up or share, and abusive actions are purposeful with the goal of gaining power and control over a partner.
ASK: What do you think are common ways that offenders use power and control over victims?
RESPOND: Strategically isolating victims is a common tactic to gain power and control over a victim. Perpetrators may trap their partners by withholding, lying about, or hiding financial assets, a form of financial abuse.
6. Trust the survivor’s perspective.
Survivors know their experiences and story better than anyone. Taking a survivor-centered approach empowers survivors by prioritizing their needs and wants. Often, abusers deny their partners’ self-determination; empowering survivors returns their control and enables them to make their own decisions.
ASK: In what ways can we support survivors in making their own decisions about how to address abuse?
RESPOND: Listen! Ask survivors what they need to individually be safe – there is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing domestic violence.
7. Question the way the media portrays domestic violence.
Within the last few years, there have been a number of highly publicized cases of domestic violence. While raising awareness is important, it’s crucial to look at domestic violence reporting through a critical and trauma-informed lens to make sure the portrayal of domestic violence is accurately rooted in the realities of survivors’ experiences.
ASK: What have you thought about recent media coverage of celebrity domestic violence cases?
RESPOND: Survivors in highly publicized cases deserve the same respect as any person experiencing abuse. First and foremost, we must believe survivors, continue to hold celebrity offenders accountable and keep in mind that everyone’s story is their own and unique.
8. Communicate that domestic violence is not a “private, family matter.”
One in three women will be a victim of domestic or sexual violence at some point in her lifetime, and each day an average of three women die at the hands of someone who claimed to love them. Domestic violence affects us all; victims are our family members, neighbors, coworkers, and friends. All of us must be part of the solution.
ASK: Do you know anyone who has been affected by domestic violence? How did you support them?
RESPOND: Domestic violence affects each and every one of us. Violence is not the answer, and it’s on us to take a stand against domestic violence.
9. Root your conversation in equality.
One of the root causes of domestic violence is inequality. Addressing this root cause takes conscious action and significant social change.
ASK: What role does gender inequality play in domestic violence?
RESPOND: Many dynamics of power and control are rooted in gender roles and stereotypes. One way to combat these ingrained inequalities is through conscious action (e.g., by calling out sexism, racism, or any other –ism when you see it) and youth education.
10. Remember, domestic violence affects all of us, but with action and education, we can end it.
Domestic violence is everywhere, affecting millions of individuals across the United States regardless of age, economic status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or education. Domestic violence is not strictly physical abuse but can include emotional, financial, verbal, psychological, sexual, and technology-facilitated abuse as well.
ASK: What can you do to end domestic violence?
RESPOND: There are many ways to help end domestic violence. The easiest way is to start a conversation about domestic violence with your loved ones. Support your community by volunteering or donating to a domestic violence organization. Our local YWCA is an outstanding organization that is dedicated to helping victims of DV.
And speaking of the YWCA, each year during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, “We remember the lives taken too soon as we maintain strong hope that our determination and commitment to our work will allow us to one day see an END to Domestic Violence.”
On October 20th, they invite you to join them as they gather on the front steps of the YWCA to remember each of those lives lost. “And while we may never know every name, we come together in unity for their honor.”
They invite you to “Wear your purple and be a part of our community photo at 5 p.m., followed by our Vigil of Hope & Remembrance.”
First observed in October 1981 as a national “Day of Unity,” Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is held every October as a way to unite advocates across the nation in their efforts to end domestic violence.
Each October, in observance of DVAM, the YWCA Northcentral PA hosts a Vigil to remember and honor lives lost in Lycoming County to Domestic Violence.
They also are encouraging our community to wear PURPLE on Thursday, October 20th, to show support for those impacted by domestic violence and to let others know help is available.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please know that you aren’t alone and help is available. The YWCA’s Wise Options operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call their FREE & CONFIDENTIAL Crisis Hotline anytime at 1-800-326-8483. Trained staff and volunteers provide immediate support and information to individuals fleeing violence or experiencing homelessness.