It is a tragic, alarming, and utterly preventable cultural reality that women suffer increased rates of violence and harassment in practically every area of life. Antiquated gender roles, predatory societal figures, and a general lack of awareness all contribute to an ugly mosaic of mistreatment of women that has become astonishingly normalized and commonplace, even in the United States of 2018. This mistreatment permeates practically every environment, from our everyday social relationships to one of the most intimate, where women are supposed to feel the safest—their romantic relationships.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in three women have been the victims of physical violence by an intimate partner, one in five have experienced rape, and on average, nearly twenty people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. What’s even more alarming is that many of these incidents go unreported and never see the light of day. Solving the systemic problem of dating violence that impacts so many women requires creating an atmosphere of transparency of incidents, heightened accountability for offenders, and support and advocacy for victims. These conditions must be cultivated in both everyday life as well as in institutional paradigms.
These figures represent the unflinching reality that dating violence is a global epidemic, affecting not just the United States but the world community at large.
There are multiple issues at play within toxic relationship dynamics that contribute to dating violence. These issues can include both external factors like substance use and mental illness, as well as deeply entrenched personal factors that can lead to crippling fear, codependency, and lack of self-worth. Perpetrators of dating and intimate-partner violence often weaponize fear dynamics and low self-esteem of victims to establish, maintain, and assert control within the relationship. Any deviation from these toxic and dysfunctional power dynamics is met with physical assault that helps the offender maintain dominance and reinforce the the victim’s perception that they deserve their abuse.
It’s important to realize that there is no circumstance, other than extreme examples of self-defense, under which physical violence against an intimate partner is normal, acceptable, warranted, or justified. No action that you take is provocation for physical or sexual assault. It’s also important to realize that there is more than one type of relationship-based violence. Verbal and economic abuse can be just as harmful and dis-empowering as physical assault. These types of abuse often occur alongside physical abuse and are another way for perpetrators to keep victims in their control. These cycles often last for years and even lifetimes.
One of the most crippling roadblocks to proactive domestic violence intervention is the stigma, judgment, and scrutiny that victims often face. They commonly hear questions like:
"Well, why don’t you just leave?
"How can you stay in a situation like that?"
Women are routinely trapped in situations in which their financial security is intertwined with their partner’s. In these situations, to flee an abusive relationship means practically starting life over with limited to no financial resources. Some are forced to decide between losing their financial stability and trying to navigate and “manage” the cycles of abuse.
Whether it’s fear for children’s safety or fear of never being able to see them again if a woman decides to leave, the victim’s exit strategies can very often be complicated by the presence of children in an abusive relationship. Often a woman will have to choose between keeping her children safe and happy and securing her own personal safety and independence. It’s important to realize that children who grow up in abusive family dynamics are at heightened risk for long-term mental health issues.
Many victims of intimate-partner violence have been conditioned to believe that they deserve the abuse they sustain. These harmful and deeply misguided beliefs prompt a sort of codependency in which they feel as though they’re only complete if they’re keeping their partner happy—at all costs. Perpetrators of intimate-partner violence have a way of pinpointing and exploiting emotionally vulnerable people; however, these dynamics can also start and strengthen in relationships as time goes on.
Many victims of intimate-partner violence are legitimately ashamed of their abusive relationship. They feel that, even though they’re strong, independent people in other aspects of their lives, they have abdicated their power and personal autonomy for the sake of maintaining a relationship. This fear of judgment stops them from coming forward and getting the help they need.
There are more resources than ever to help women safely and effectively extricate themselves from an abusive dating dynamic. The domestic Violence Hotline is a proven and effective resource for women who need to escape immediately and who have little to no resources to live independently. There are also more and more state-sponsored resources for domestic abuse survivors to start over and cultivate a safe and healthy life for themselves and their children. If these are the circumstances you find yourself in, the most important thing is to recognize your situation and understand that it’s not your fault. Rather than retreat, self-medicate, or try to manage the abuse you’re sustaining, let someone help you reclaim your safety, health, and dignity.
Start the process of asking for help by telling a trusted friend, family member, or experienced professional what you’re going through. From there, you can have assistance creating a game plan to gradually start removing yourself from the abusive dynamic in which you find yourself trapped. Declare your independence today.
|Alabama||Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence Montgomery, AL|
|Alaska||Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Juneau, AK|
|Arizona||Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV) Phoenix, AZ Sexual Violence Prevention & Education Program Tucson, AZ|
|Arkansas||Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence Little Rock, AR Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault Fayetteville, AR|
|California||California Coalition Against Sexual Assault Sacramento, CA California Partnership to End Domestic Violence Sacramento, CA|
|Colorado||Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault Denver, CO Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) Denver, CO|
|Connecticut||Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc. (CONNSACS) East Hartford, CT Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) East Hartford, CT|
|Delaware||Delaware Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (DVCC) Wilmington, DE ContactLifeline, Inc. Wilmington, DE Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence Wilmington, DE|
|District of Columbia||District of Columbia Coalition Against Domestic Violence Washington, DC D.C. Rape Crisis Center Washington, DC|
|Florida||Florida Council Against Sexual Violence (FCASV) Tallahassee, FL Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence Tallahassee, FL|
|Georgia||Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence Decatur, GA Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault Atlanta, GA|
|Hawaii||Sex Abuse Treatment Center Honolulu, HI|
|Idaho||Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence Boise, ID|
|Illinois||Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) Springfield, IL Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence Springfield, IL|
|Indiana||Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence Indianapolis, IN|
|Iowa||Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (Iowa CASA) Des Moines, IA Rape Victim Advocacy Program (Iowa) Iowa City, IA Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence Des Moines, IA|
|Kansas||Kansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Topeka, KS|
|Kentucky||Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs Frankfort, KY The Center for Women and Families Louisville, KY|
|Louisiana||Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault Hammond , LA Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence Baton Rouge, LA|
|Maine||Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault Augusta, ME Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence Augusta, ME Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center Winthrop, ME|
|Maryland||Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence Bowie, MD Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Inc. Arnold, MD|
|Massachusetts||Jane Doe, Inc. - Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Boston, MA Abby's House Worchester , MA|
|Michigan||Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Okemos, MI|
|Minnesota||Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault St. Paul, MN Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women St. Paul, MN Rape and Sexual Abuse Center Minneapolis, MN|
|Mississippi||Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence Jackson, MS Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault Jackson, MS|
|Missouri||Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Jefferson City, MO|
|Montana||Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Helena, MT|
|Nebraska||Nebraska Coalition to end Sexual and Domestic Violence Lincoln, NE|
|Nevada||Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence Reno, NV|
|New Hampshire||Women's Information Service (WISE) Lebanon, NH New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Concord, NH Starting Point: Services for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence Conway, NH|
|New Jersey||New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault Trenton, NJ|
|New Mexico||New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence Albuquerque, NM New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs Albuquerque , NM|
|New York||New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault Albany, NY NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault New York, NY New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence Albany, NY|
|North Carolina||North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence Durham, NC North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault Raleigh, NC|
|North Dakota||North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services/Coalition Against Sexual Asault Bismarck, ND|
|Ohio||Ohio Domestic Violence Network Columbus, OH ACTION OHIO Coalition for Battered Women Columbus, OH Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence Columbus, OH|
|Oklahoma||Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Oklahoma City, OK|
|Oregon||Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Portland, OR|
|Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence Harrisburg, PA Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape Enola, PA|
|Puerto Rico||Oficina de la Procuradora de las Mujeres San Juan, PR Puerto Rico Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer, Inc/Coalición Puertorriqueña contra la Violencia Doméstica y la Agresión Sexual) San Juan, PR|
|Rhode Island||Day One Sexual Assault and Trauma Resource Center Providence, RI Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Warwick, RI|
|South Carolina||South Carolina Coalition Ending Domestic & Sexual Violence Columbia, SC|
|South Dakota||South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pierre, SD South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault Sioux Falls, SD|
|Tennessee||Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Nashville, TN|
|Texas||Texas Association Against Sexual Assault Austin, TX Texas Council On Family Violence Austin, TX|
|Utah||Utah Domestic Violence Council Salt Lake City, UT Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault Salt Lake City, UT|
|Vermont||Vermont Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Montpelier, VT|
|Virgin Islands||Women's Coalition of St. Croix Christiansted, VI|
|Virginia||Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance Richmond, VA|
|Washington||Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence Seattle, WA Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs Olympia, WA|
|West Virginia||West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services, Inc. (WV FRIS) Fairmont, WV West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence Elkview, WV|
|Wisconsin||End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin Madison, WI|
|Wyoming||Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Laramie, WY|
Guide Brought To You By: Safe Harbor Treatment Center - Addiction Treatment For Women California