Raise awareness and help stop domestic violence this October

Image courtesy of EAC Network

Domestic violence is a topic that should be talked about more. Many are afraid to speak about the subject or bring it to light, but it could help save a life.

It’s never too late to learn about how to stop domestic violence, especially since October is domestic violence awareness month.

Although, many might not know how to spot domestic violence or what to do when you see domestic violence in place.

Domestic violence can present itself in many ways, sometimes more subtle than others. According to Verywell Mind, some of the behavioral signs that someone is suffering abuse are becoming reserved, showing privacy concerns, canceling appointments or meetings at the last minute, dropping out of activities they would frequently participate in and isolating themselves from friends and family.

Some of the physical signs that someone is suffering abuse, according to Verywell Mind, are black eyes, bruised lips, purple or red marks on the neck, sprained wrist or bruised arms. 

Some emotional signs of abuse include agitation or anxiety, low self-esteem, constantly apologizing, a lack of interest in daily activities, developing a drug or alcohol problem, changes in sleep habits and seeming fearful.

All of these warning signs show the different sides of domestic violence. Domestic violence isn’t just physical abuse. It can be verbal abuse, emotional abuse, control behavior and much more. And it isn’t easy for victims to leave their abuses. 

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, or NCADV, 37% of women and 29% of men in Florida experience partner dating violence, partner sexual violence and intimate stalking in their lifetime. And in 2019, 105,298 domestic violence cases were reported in Florida but many incidents were left unreported. 

Abuse is much more common than many people believe. As reported by the NCADV, 1 in 3 women in Florida and 1 in 4 men in Florida have experienced a form of physical violence in their lifetime.

On an average day, local domestic violence hotlines receive around 13 calls every minute. And women are not the only victims of domestic violence. Men and children can also suffer domestic violence.

The NCADV states that 1 in 7 men in the nation have been victims of severe physical violence, 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner and 5.1 million men in the country have been stalked in their lifetime.

These facts can be very startling, but it shows just how frequently domestic violence can be found. It can seem impossible to help someone in this situation, but the best way to help someone is to look for warning signs. Knowing what the warning signs are in an abuser can help you identify when someone’s being abused and enable you to help. 

According to the NCADV, some of the warning signs to look for in an abuser are extreme jealousy, unpredictability, control over finances, abuse of other family members, a bad temper, cruelty to animals, embarrassing or humiliating the victim in front of others and sabotaging the victim’s ability to work or go to school.

Other signs to look for are possessiveness, verbal abuse, controlling or sabotaging the victim’s birth control, forcing their partner to have sex, accusing the victim of having an affair, controlling how the victim acts or what they wear, demeaning the victim in private or public and harassing the victim at work. 

Once you identify these signs, it can still be very difficult to get out of an abusive relationship. Many people don’t even know where to start once they realize they’re in an abusive relationship. One of the first steps is to call a domestic violence hotline. 

Whether it be the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-SAFE, of the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-500-1119 or VicitmConnect, 855-484-2864. However, if you or someone you know is facing an emergency, call 911 immediately and then a hotline. 

Another way to get help is to try and leave the relationship or environment as soon as possible. There are local shelters that help victims of domestic violence. The Aid to Victims of Domestic Violence, located on PO Box 6161, Delray Beach, helps women in domestic violence situations. 

Boca Helping Hands, located on 1500 NW 1st Ct, Boca Raton, is also a place victims can go to for help. Women in Distress of Broward County, located on P.O. Box 50187 Lighthouse Point, also helps domestic violence victims. 

One other way that people can protect themselves against domestic violence is by creating a safety plan. A safety plan is a personalized and practical plan that is supposed to improve one’s safety when the person is experiencing abuse. 

The safety plan is supposed to prepare a person for leaving the abusive situation and preparing the victim for after they leave the abusive situation. Safety plans can be a physical escape or preparation plan or an emotional safety plan. These plans should always be beneficial to the victim and prepare the victim for what they need in the situation. 

Some safety plan tips for preparing to leave, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, are recording physical evidence of abuse, finding a safe place to go to, calling ahead to a shelter if possible, reassuring children that they are to remain safe and trying to set money aside.

For when you leave, the National Domestic Violence Hotline suggests that people bring identification papers, legal papers, emergency numbers and medications if possible.

Image courtesy of NBC News

It’s also suggested that victims bring emergency money, an address book, valuable items like jewelry, a safe cell phone if necessary, emergency items like food and bottles of water, extra sets of keys and multiple changes of clothes. 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline suggests that after a victim leaves their abusive relationship, people should change their locks and keys, change their work hours if possible, alert school or other authorities of the situation and maintain a protection order if one is already in place. 

It’s also suggested to reschedule any appointments that the previous partner might’ve known of, use different stores, alert neighbors and colleagues and consider renting a post office box. 

Being able to first spot the signs of domestic violence is the most important step. But it’s also very important not to ignore those signs once you see them. 

Whether you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, being able to identify the abusive is the first step. Once you’re aware of the situation and want to help or leave, make sure to talk to someone you trust.

Remember to never ignore the warning signs of abuse and inform yourself on how to take action when abuse is spotted. If you or anyone you know is facing domestic violence or abuse call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE or 911.

About the Author

- Lauren is a junior at Nova Southeastern University who is studying Communications, Creative Writing, and Strategic Communications. In her free time, she loves to go to the beach and writing what's on her mind.

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