Ending Domestic and Sexual Violence

power-and-control-adultsToday is Friday, September 27, 2013.

What is domestic  violence?  It is any act that occurs between people who live together, or who have lived together, that causes harm, or causes a person to believe that they are in danger of being harmed.  It includes activities such as beatings, pushing, hair pulling, name calling, abuse or killing of pets, threats, child abuse, rape, stalking, food thrown in the face, and murder.

It may surprise some to know that in the United States, 3 to 4 women are murdered every day by their husband or significant other.

Domestic violence is responsible for more injuries to women than muggings, rape and car accidents combined.  It occurs at all social and economic levels, and in all cultures.  It has been estimated that fully half of all marriages have experienced at least one episode of violence.

Statistics about violence are hard to verify, because it is not always reported, and when it is reported, only physical violence is counted in the statistics.  One estimate says that a somewhere in America, a woman is battered every nine seconds, and that doesn’t include verbal or psychological abuse

Although women are the main victims, violence can occur between two men and between two women – it is a fact that violence occurs in homosexual partnerings as well as heterosexual ones.  Also, women can be perpetrators of violence against men, although it is not nearly as common a situation.

What is sexual violence?   It comes in many forms, all of which are types of rape: violent acts where sex is used as a weapon.  Sexual violence has far-reaching consequences, not only physical, but also mental, emotional, and spiritual.

All of these forms of abuse have one thing in common: one person exercising power and control over the other.  If you click on the image at the top, you will see the various ways in which power and control are used to dominate in a relationship. 

NonViolenceWheelIt’s been said that we attract into our lives what we focus on, so let’s look at the other side of the coin for a moment.  What does a relationship without violence look like?

1.   The partners respect each other and listen to what each other has to say, even if they don’t necessarily agree.

2.   The partners trust and support each other.  Each partner has the right to have his or her own friends and activities, opinions and feelings.  Each partner has different ways of solving problems, and partners don’t always try to solve problems for the other, but simply support what their partner is doing to solve his or her own problems.  Trust means knowing that your partner will not harm you, even if you tell him or her something that he or she doesn’t like.

3.   The partners are honest, and willing to accept responsibility for their part in whatever is happening.  Partners acknowledge past use of violence and are willing to admit that they are or were wrong.  Partners communicate openly and truthfully, but with love and respect.  Truth is not used as a weapon to bash the other over the head with.

4.   Both partners are responsible parents.  They do not blame the other constantly for the children’s misdeeds, but accept some of the blame themselves.  Partners model nonviolent problem-solving and negotiating skills for their children.  Partners assist their children in solving problems by communicating clearly and showing respect for others.

5.   Partners share the responsibility for housekeeping, financial support, and parenting duties.  They make decisions together, and include the children in decision-making, when appropriate.

6.   Specifically, partners make financial decisions together, regardless of how much each partner provides as income.  Both partners benefit from financial arrangements.

7.   Conflict resolution is accomplished through dialogue and negotiation, and all resolutions are as fair as possible.  Both partners are willing to compromise and accept changes.  Partners accept outside help, if necessary, to accomplish conflict resolution.

8.   Behavior is always non-threatening.  Both partners feel safe in expressing themselves and being who they are.  They do not have to live up to an “ideal” put forth by their partner.

***
Obviously, many partnerships are not “there” yet, and law enforcement, medical and mental healthcare workers the courts, and social workers bear the brunt of having to deal with the situation when things go sour.  Legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act, which has been updated but not passed in its most recently updated form, is a tool that makes it easier for people to report violence and easier to prosecute the crimes.

For more information on the Violence Against Women Act, please click here to read information from the South Dakota Coalition Ending Domestic and Sexual Violence.  There’s a lot of misinformation going around.  Please be informed!  🙂

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