DV Awareness Month: What is domestic violence?

You might be surprised to learn that you could be inadvertently participating in domestic violence. When you hear the phrase, “domestic violence,” what is the immediate image that flashes into your mind? Is it a bruised and beaten woman who may well be fighting for her very life? Many a woman has died at the hands of a man she loved, and trusted not ever to raise a hand to her, to physically or emotionally batter her, or take her very life.

From the “Day of Unity” observed in 1981, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) wanted to publicly mourn those who have died because of domestic violence, to celebrate survivors of domestic violence and connect those who work to end domestic violence, says the Domestic Violence Awareness Project.

In 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month campaign was observed. That year the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline was established. And by act of Congress in 1989 and every year since, awareness month has been established in October with observations like last week’s Purple Door Breakfast in Lisbon.

“…[T]here are still countless people – victims and survivors, their children and families, their friends and family, their communities – impacted by domestic violence,” advises NCADV.

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is “violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.” It is “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.

Is it simplifying too much to say it is gross disrespect for a life partner?

It occurs in relationships, all kinds of relationships – married, living together, dating … The word “bullying” comes to mind, violent bullying, incidents that physically harm, trigger fear, stop a partner from doing what he or she wants to do, force them to behave in ways they don’t want to.

Domestic violence includes withholding money and other family resources, emotional battering, threats and intimidation, physical or sexual violence. Your partner threatens to abandon you, commit suicide, report you to welfare, make you drop charges against that individual. Your partner may not let you have a job or go to school, treat you like a servant, define the roles of males and females, and make all the big decisions.”

Your partner doesn’t take your concerns seriously, blames you for the problems, for causing the abuse, or tells you the abuse never happened, controlling where you go, what you do, who you talk to, isolating you from everyone – family and friends included.

Your partner puts you down, makes you feel inferior, stupid, worthless, makes you think you’re crazy, humiliates you, pays mind games and makes you feel guilty when you haven’t done anything to feel guilty about.

It’s all about power and control over a partner.

According to Merriam-Webster, a partner is “a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits.” And that definition is a good fit with a relationship. The two of you undertake a life with potential risks and profits, trying to reach the goals you share. Respect is key in a healthy relationship. There will be disagreements, sometimes heated, but respect and self-control are required.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.