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by Julie Rael

Domestic Violence Therapist Holding Patient's Hand

Since 1981, October has been recognized nationally as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. During this time, the focus is on educating and raising awareness of the ongoing epidemic of domestic violence, both physical and emotional. Domestic violence affects millions of men and women every year. Approximately three out of four Americans are a victim or personally know someone who is a victim of this type of abuse. With such a staggering statistic, it’s more clear than ever that it is time to take action. So, what can you do to help this October? First things first, it’s important to be educated before teaching others. So, let’s understand what this abuse entails and why domestic violence awareness is so important.

What is Domestic Violence?

When we think of domestic abuse, most of the time our mind goes to physical abuse. While this is part of it, domestic violence actually encompasses much more than that. This includes:

  • Physical or sexual violence
  • Threats
  • Humiliation, such as calling someone stupid to the point where they believe it
  • Stealing a paycheck
  • Online and over the phone harassment, like nonstop texting or posting on social media
  • Manipulation and coercion 
  • Yelling or constant use of the silent treatment

Unfortunately, these are just a few examples but abuse can manifest in many different ways. Domestic violence is also hidden from the public eye and many victims are frightened to come forward. So, if you think you don’t know anyone who is experiencing this, you may be wrong. You’re probably wondering how this happens and why abusers become abusers in the first place. There isn’t a clear cut answer, however, there have been some insights into how this violence begins.

Factors of Domestic Violence

Just as domestic violence can have many different appearances, there can be many different factors that contribute to domestic violence. So, what are some of the factors of domestic violence?

Power and Control

Many times, domestic abuse is rooted in the abuser seeking power and control. According to the Joyful Heart Foundation, if a partner feels they can dominate the other, it is significantly more likely for a relationship to turn violent. Research has found that abusers tend to abuse when they feel out of control.

Past Trauma

Domestic violence is known as a cycle, and it’s possible that if an abuser witnessed domestic violence during childhood, they begin to repeat the same behavior. PTSD and trauma can contribute to this and influence an abuser. Past trauma can also manifest as insecurity, which is another possible root of domestic violence.

Substance Abuse

When a person is struggling with alcohol or substance abuse, their decision making is affected and violent impulses are less controlled. This can also influence emotions and the severity of the abuse can worsen the situation. Although someone may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that does not give them the right to turn violent towards their partner or family.

Major Life Changes

Episodes of domestic violence have been known to increase during a major life event, such as a family member’s illness or pregnancy. Such changes can cause anxiety and depression, which can be difficult to cope with when untreated. If you feel someone going through a major change may become abusive, reach out to them and assist them in seeking help

There is no single trigger for domestic violence, and these are just a few examples of why it could happen. However, these factors of domestic violence do not justify harming a loved one and are no excuse for violent or abusive behavior. It’s important to remember that you can and must speak up to help a loved one who may be experiencing this type of abuse.

How to Raise Domestic Violence Awareness

While October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we should not limit our awareness and education to this one time of the year. It’s important to stay educated and involved year-round and provide support. There are a number of ways to get involved in raising awareness:

  • Volunteer at your local Domestic Violence Coalition
  • Donate to the National Domestic Violence Hotline
  • Educate yourself on all types of domestic violence, including dating abuse
  • Provide resources to those in need, such as Utah’s 24-Hour LINK Line <a href=”tel:1-800-897-5465″>1-800-897-5465</a>
  • Reach out to a loved one if you are worried about them

It’s wonderful to be involved all month long, but keep the trend going throughout the year and remember that it is time to speak up. If this issue doesn’t affect you directly, it may be affecting those around you and those you love. At Valley Behavioral Health, we are here to help. Through our wide range of programs and services, our team of experts can assist every step of the way. So, remember, once Domestic Violence Awareness Month is over, it’s still important to speak up, stay educated, and raise awareness.

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