Domestic Violence Survivor Bags


Domestic Violence Survivor Bags

The Family Crisis Center in Redfield presented the Spink County Sheriff’s Office with several Domestic Violence Survivor Bags to have available in their police cars.  The bags are filled with pamphlets on “Violence in the Family – It’s everyone’s concern”, “Partner Abuse – What you should know”, “Partner Abuse – Help yourself or someone you know”, “Breaking Free from Family Violence”, “Are You in a Healthy Relationship? – Information for adult partners”, and “Is your Relationship Safe?  Keeping Tabs on what’s healthy and what’s not”.  There is a survey to determine if you are in an abusive situation and information on what services the Family Crisis Center offers and lists their 24 hour hotline number of 605-472-0508 for those needing assistance.

A memo book, pack of Kleenex, Family Crisis Center pen, pencil, emery board and lip balm with their name, phone number and e-mail address printed on them, keychain/whistle with contact information, business cards and a purple wristband with “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” imprinted on it are also enclosed.  These items are for victims of abuse that Law Enforcement encounters.  They can get the information for contact at that time or to take with them and have it should they decide to seek help in the future.    

Accepting the bags from Family Crisis Center Director Janelle Fortin is Sargent Jenna Appel with the Spink County Sheriff’s Office.  Sargent Appel has recently joined the Family Crisis Center Board of Directors.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Information from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner dominating over another.  Domestic violence is prevalent in every community, and affects all people regardless of age, socio economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality.  The devastating consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.  It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, economic, and emotional/psychological abuse.

Psychological abuse involves trauma to the victim caused by verbal abuse, acts, threats of acts, or coercive tactics.  Perpetrators use psychological abuse to control, terrorize, and denigrate their victims.  It frequently occurs prior to or concurrently with physical or sexual abuse.  Tactics include: • Humiliating the victim • Controlling what the victim can or cannot do • Withholding information from the victim • Deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed • Isolating the victim from friends and/or family • Denying the victim access to money or other basic resources • Stalking • Demeaning the victim in public or in private • Undermining the victim’s confidence and/or sense of self-worth • Convincing the victim (s)he is crazy.  A number of studies have demonstrated that psychological abuse independently causes long-term damage to a victim’s mental health. Victims of psychological abuse often experience depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, low self-esteem, and difficulty trusting others. Subtle psychological abuse is more harmful than either overt psychological abuse or direct aggression.

4 in 10 women and 4 in 10 men have experienced at least one form of coercive control by an intimate partner in their lifetime.  17.9% of women have experienced a situation where an intimate partner tried to keep them from seeing family and friends.  18.7% of women have experienced threats of physical harm by an intimate partner.  95% of men who physically abuse their intimate partners also psychologically abuse them.  Women who earn 65% or more of their households’ income are more likely to be psychologically abused than women who earn less than 65% of their households’ income.

7 out of 10 psychologically abused women display symptoms of PTSD and/or depression.   Psychological abuse is a stronger predictor of PTSD than physical abuse among women.  Are you being psychologically abused?  Does your partner: • Threaten to harm you, your children, your family and/or your pets? • Tell you are worthless and that no one else will ever love you? • Isolate you from your friends and/or family? • Control your behavior and monitor your movements and whereabouts? • Tell you that you are crazy? • Demean you in public or in private? • Constantly criticize you? • Blame you for everything that goes wrong? • Stalk you? • Cause you to feel guilt over things that are not your fault? • Threaten to take away your children?  If so, your partner may be abusing you.  For help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or visit Domesticshelters.org to access professional help.

On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. 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 such as slapping, shoving or pushing.  1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence such as beating, burning or 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.  1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men in the United States is raped during his/her lifetime.

On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines receive approximately 21,000 calls, approximately 15 calls every minute.

Domestic violence occurs in dating relationships as well as marriages. Women aged 16 to 24 experience domestic violence at the highest rate of any age group, almost 3 times the national average.  Nearly 20.9% of female high school students and 13.4% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.  Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year.  A 2013 study of 10th graders found that 35% had been either physically or verbally abused; 31% were perpetrators of physical or verbal abuse.

In 2010, 1 in 15 children in the United States were exposed to intimate partner violence for a total of more than 5 million children.  Witnessing intimate partner violence is associated with other forms of violence.  1 in 3 children who witnessed domestic violence were also child abuse victims.  Children’s immediate reaction to experiencing domestic violence include generalized anxiety, sleeplessness, aggression, difficulty concentrating, nightmares, high levels of activity, and separation anxiety.  Abusive partners use children to control victims.  Fathers who batter the mothers of their children are twice as likely to seek sole custody of their children as non-abusive fathers.  Courts award sole or joint custody to fathers in 70% of custody cases.  Abusive parents use child custody as a way to continue to threaten and harass the victim and often threaten to gain sole custody, kill, kidnap or otherwise harm children if victims leave.

Domestic violence creates a violent and hostile environment that can have devastating effects on children, both physical and emotional. Children who have been exposed to domestic violence can become fearful and anxious, concerned for themselves, siblings, and their parents. They may begin to feel worthless and powerless.  Children exposed to violence may have difficulty paying attention and display depression and withdrawal.  In the long run, children who witness or experience violence at home are much more likely to perpetuate the cycle of abuse in their own relationships as they grow into adulthood.  Children who witness intimate partner violence growing up are three times as likely as their peers to engage in violent behavior.  Children raised in abusive homes learn that violence is an appropriate way to solve conflict. These children are more likely than their peers to be in abusive intimate partner relationships in the future, either as victims or perpetrators.  Children who witness incidents of domestic violence (a form of childhood trauma) are at greater risk of serious adult health problems including obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression, substance abuse, tobacco use and unintended pregnancies than peers who did not witness domestic violence.

Stalking is a course of conduct of threatening tactics used by a perpetrator, including intimidation, surveillance or harassment, that places a person in reasonable fear of material harm to their health or safety or the health or safety of an immediate family member, household member, spouse or intimate partner, or pet.  Stalking is a serious crime.  Former and current intimate partners often use stalking to terrorize their victims.  1 in 10 women and 1 in 50 men have experienced stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Abuse in later life comprises financial, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, abandonment and neglect.  Perpetrators are people with whom the victim has an expectation of trust, particularly spouses, intimate partners, adult children, grandchildren, other family members, and non-related caregivers.  Perpetrators typically, but not exclusively, abuse older adults in their places of residence.  Every year, approximately 4 million older Americans are victims of physical, psychological and/or other forms of abuse and neglect.  Older adults who require assistance with daily life activities are at increased risk of being emotionally abused or financially exploited.  Approximately 50% of older adults with dementia are mistreated or abused.

Abuse in later life has a devastating impact on victims and can result in the loss of independence, security, life savings, health, dignity, and can be deadly.  Research indicates that older adult victims of abuse have shorter lifespans than their peers who do not experience violence.  Abuse in later life can cause both physical and psychological harm. Psychological harms associated with abuse in later life include depression, stress, helplessness, alienation, guilt, shame, fear, and anxiety.  Elder abuse may include using emotional tactics such as embarrassment and humiliation; controlling behavior (restricting access to telephone, transportation, and other resources); damaging or destroying property; social isolation and disregarding or trivializing needs.

An abusers main objective in intimate relationships is to dominate and control their victim.  They are manipulative and clever and will use a myriad of tactics to gain and maintain control over their partner, often in cycles that consist of periods of good times and peace and periods of abuse.  The cycle often starts to repeat, commonly becoming more and more intense as time goes on.  Each relationship is different and not every relationship follows the exact pattern.  Some abusers may cycle rapidly, others over longer stretches of time.  Regardless, abusers purposefully use numerous tactics of abuse to instill fear in the victim and maintain control over them. 

The overreaching strategy used by abusers is referred to as coercive control.  Coercive control includes a combination of abusive tactics such as isolation, degradation, micromanagement, manipulation, stalking, physical abuse, sexual coercion, threats and punishment.  An abuser may use some of these tactics or vary when they use them, but combined and used over time, they are effective in establishing dominance over their victim.  A dominant and controlling partner may initially present at the onset of a relationship as wonderful, loving, and attentive.  They may be charming, successful, well-liked and are often very romantic and interested in their partner’s interests and desires.  They may want to be with them all the time, attentive and charming with their partner’s friends and family, supportive and kind.  However, over time, these behaviors start to change.  The attention that may have initially felt exciting and flattering starts to feel isolating and controlling. 

The victimized person may start to feel isolated from friends and family because their partner dominates so much of their time.  The abuser may start to object to their partner’s time spent with others or make it so difficult to do things independently of them that the victim stops doing so.  Prolonged exposure to this type of treatment combined with periods of loving and desired behaviors by the controlling partner can lead to the victimized person feeling trapped, silenced, and lacking self-esteem.  If the victimized person tries to assert them self, the abuser often ramps up the abuse and may become more and more controlling and abusive.  Soon, the victimized person may come to fear the abuser for various valid reasons and may feel they are unable to escape or leave.  It is important to note that a victimized person may not be able to get away from their abuser because the abuser will not let them do so.

Abusive tactics used to establish dominance and control over a partner by an abuser include, but are not limited to the following.  An abuser may: • Be extremely jealous and/or exhibit possessiveness • Try to convince others they are the true victim in the relationship • Blame the victim for causing them to abuse them • Be unpredictable • Be cruel to animals • Be physically, verbally, emotionally, or psychologically abusive • Be extremely controlling • Be rigid in their beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships • Be particularly interested in guns or weapons • Be forceful with sex or disrespectful to their partner’s wishes around sex • Be vigilant about their partner’s every move • Blame their partner for anything bad that happens • Have a bad temper or are easily angered • Come from a violent household • Sabotage birth control methods or refuse to honor agreed upon protection methods • Sabotage or obstruct their partner’s ability to work or attend school • Control all the finances in the relationship • Abuse of other family members, children, or pets. 

Forms of Domestic Violence include: • Battery – a pattern of abusive behavior that a person fearful of their physical and/or sexual safety; control; intimidation; coercion. • Isolation – forcing a partner to account for their time and whereabouts and/or making a partner tell with whom they have visited; telling a partner that you exist for them only – you do not get to be a separate, autonomous person. • Emotional Abuse – playing on a partner’s insecurities; giving mixed messages; constant insults and degradation; telling a partner who they are or should be. • Financial Abuse – controlling all monetary resources; exploiting a partner’s social security number or credit; not allowing a partner access to money or financial documentation. • Threat of Control of the Children - a partner must submit to the abuser’s needs, wants or desires or something will happen to the children; threat of taking the kids away.

Support domestic and sexual violence education, prevention and intervention programs in your community.  If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic abuse, or if you need someone to talk to contact the Family Crisis Center, Inc. at 605-472-0508.

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