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  • Writer's pictureericjcarrig

Domestic Violence 2: Predictors of Abuse; Getting Help; Challenges Survivors Face; Solutions

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

Stand against domestic violence for our sisters, girlfriends, daughters, mothers and close friends

Photo by Goffkein

Domestic violence affects a large portion of American society and is getting worse

  • In 2018, partner violence accounted for 20% of all violent crime.

  • 25 percent of women and 10 percent of men experience sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime

  • 50 percent of female murder victims and 1 in 13 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.

  • Approximately 20 percent of female victims and 5 percent of male victims need medical care.

  • Most intimate partner homicides are committed with firearms.

  • 65% of all murder-suicides are perpetrated by intimate partners.

  • From 2016 through 2018 the number of intimate partner violence victimizations in the United States increased 42%.

  • Domestic violence incidents in the U.S. increased by 8.1% following the imposition of lockdown orders during the 2020 pandemic (National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice)


From feeling love to terror

  • Romance turns to jealousy turns to unrealistic expectations as the abuser seeks more control.

  • Instead of saying the victim “should not” do something, it becomes “you may not.”

  • Then comes violence to punish “violations” or prevent “wrong” behavior.

  • Things will get better with apologies and pleading and promises

  • The violence becomes more frequent and severe

  • Victims typically lose contact with the friends and family that could support them due to manipulation and threats from the abuser.

  • By the time victims get to a domestic abuse services organization, they feel:

    • Hurt, not physically, but they're emotionally grappling with how this person who said he loved and cherished her could use violence to control and hurt her.

    • Anger at the abuser and the station

    • Fear, a victim is 70 percent more likely to be hurt or killed after they leave, but they also worry about where they’re going to stay, how they will eat, go places, take care of kids

What makes an abuser?

  • The perpetrator is manipulative, making promises like “I will be a better parent, get a better job, go to couples counseling, attend church”

  • Batterers are usually exposed to domestic violence as kids

    • People who witnessed or experienced violence as a child are four times more likely to do it or be a victim

    • If a parent was hospitalized, the odds of being an abuser or victim goes up 100 times

    • Girls who witness are likely to be a victim as an adult

    • Boys who witness as a child are more likely to do it

  • Personality Characteristics: Lack of empathy, Jealousy, Entitlement; Partner should take care of them, rigid gender roles

  • Actions: Prevents partner from having autonomy; Treats partner as subordinate/unequal; Denies them the right to self-determination

  • Risk factors for homicide

    • Access to lethal weapons, especially guns

    • Propensity to use violence, not just use weapons

    • Introduction of child: Pregnant women experience domestic physical violence at a higher rate than non-pregnant women because abusers lose control over, and attention from, partners.

Cultural Attitudes Make early Intervention Difficult

  • We generally believe that the personal lives of our friends and even our families is not our business.

  • We don’t want to over step that boundary.

  • We need to be really good friends to start questioning our friends — both potential victims and abusers.

  • Therefore, people may notice something irregular, but are quick to say, “I don’t live there, so can’t judge or get involved.”

Opportunities in Clinical Settings are Not Optimal

  • Couples counseling stifles therapy because the abused typically fears violence after they get home, so doesn’t speak up

  • In year prior to death, 44 percent of victims had contact with physical health providers, but there is no way to screen for domestic violence, not refer patients to a domestic violence services organization.

The burden is on the victim

  • Short-term restraining orders

    • Victims must go to a courthouse to file paperwork to get a short-term restraining order during two time frames on certain days/

    • That disrupts work or childcare during a traumatic time.

    • It also sets the stage for potential unwanted confrontation by providing a perpetrator with specific dates and times to wait to interact with the victim.

  • Long-term restraining orders

    • The current rule is that both parties must be present during the hearing to grant a long-term (up to a year and renewable) restraining order,

    • This can be stressful and, again, requires both parties to go out of their way for the hearing

    • Video conferencing s available.

  • Filing for Divorce

    • In NC people who want a divorce must wait for a year from filing for divorce to actually get one.

    • That means that a victim, usually a woman and the person who files, is forced to be married to — and perhaps live with — a person who has abused her.

    • A new bill is under review to reduce the time to wait for a divorce.

Visit a Domestic Violence Services Organization

Organizations like Helpmate, in Asheville, NC, provide safety, shelter, and support for victims/survivors of intimate partner domestic violence.

  • Services: 24-hour Hotline; Family Justice Center; Case managers

  • Referrals to trauma-informed counselors

  • Court advocacy with an office n the courthouse

    • Helps victims apply for domestic violence protective orders

    • Acts as state’s witness for crime committed against them

  • Danger Assessment to understand the situation and risks and give indication of homicide and lethality risk. Examples:

    • More likely to receive abuse if threatened

    • If a gun is present, the victim is 7 times more likely to be killed

    • If a child who is not biologically related to the abuser is present, both partner and child are more at risk

    • If the victim has been choked, she isomer like to be killed and the abusive partner is more likely to engage in violence in the community overall

  • Safety Plan — Examples

    • Back into parking spots so if there is an emergency it is easier to get ou

    • Pack a go-bag with medications, children’s items and paperwork you might need

    • Plan where are you going to go .. friend, family, emergency shelter

System solutions

  • Make it easier to get a restraining order at any time.

  • Change divorce laws as needed to allow victims to leave the abuser

  • Introduce screening and referral processes in primary care doctors’ offices to funnel people to services, it could save lives

  • Introduce domestic violence services referrals by [police

    • When police respond to domestic disputes, have them ask 11 complainants questions to determine whether she is likely to experience future violence.

    • Then have them refer the victim to a service program on the spot.

    • While only 30 percent of victims who call the police to come to their homes visit a service organizations nationally, in Buncombe County, 72 percent visit service centers.

What men can do

  • Men can lead by example, but it takes courage.

    • Look for warnings like when guys use ownership terms for their kids and wife, put them down, or about controlling their behavior with threats and violence.

    • Describe how you and your girlfriend or spouse work out disputes related to power and control and disciplining kids peacefully

  • We need help talking to each other to overcome cultural norms

    • Men may not talk to each other the way that women do

    • It would help if more men who are professionally trained in domestic violence would come forward with advice for how men can talk to men that may be abusing women.

    • Cultural norms of minding one’s business is har dto overcome even with good friends

Get involved with local domes violence services organizations

  • Domestic violence services centers need volunteers:

    • Answer their hotline. (They provide training.)

    • Provide childcare while parents run errands, work, go to court, or take care of other responsibilities.

  • Help with maintenance at shelters with activities like record-keeping or grounds-maintenance.

  • Donate to local domestic violence programs

    • Organizations have recently lost funding from the National Crime Victims Fund due to a change in federal prosecution strategy.

    • In North Carolina, for example, funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services went from $108 million in 2018 to $21 million in 2022.

    • The government is fixing the shortfall, but funds are doled out in 5 year cycles, so funding will not be what it was for a few years.

  • Vote for politicians who have specific plans for addressing domestic violence

  • When you meet a survivor

    • Believe them

    • Tell them and others you believe them

    • Stay with them as long as they need you

Based on a conversation with April Burgess-Johnson, Executive Director of Helpmate in Asheville, North Carolina.

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