What is Domestic Violence

Home Free defines Domestic Violence as:

Domestic violence is the systematic use of abuse tactics physical, sexual, emotional, social, and/or economic — to gain and maintain control over an intimate partner.

In other words:
DV is domestic violence (if you’re talking about abuse in families or between family members) or dating violence (if you’re talking about abuse within a teen relationship). We say a relationship is a DV relationship when there is abuse happening in that relationship, not just once or twice, but over a period of time. At Home Free, we focus on serving people who are experiencing DV in an intimate relationship

People experience abuse in lots of different ways, including emotional/mental, verbal, sexual, physical, social, and economic. DV can happen to anyone, regardless of age, sex, class, gender, race, size, or sexual preference. The two main aspects of DV are power and control. An abuser uses different abusive tactics to try and maintain power and control over their partner. People who are or have experienced abusive relationships are called survivors. In the legal and criminal system, they are called victims, while abusers are called perpetrators.


Facts about Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is the systematic use of emotional, physical, sexual, economical, or spiritual abuse tactics to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner

  • 1 in 7 women in Multnomah County ages 18 to 64 are physically abused by their intimate partner each year.
  • 1 in 5 teenagers in a serious relationship reports being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.
  • 21,000 children in Multnomah County are exposed to domestic violence each year.
  • Domestic violence is non-discriminatory -- it affects people of every age, race, gender, sexual orientation and income level.
  • In Oregon, 48% of victims remain in an abusive home because they do not have a safe and affordable place to live.
  • 38% of all domestic survivors become homeless at some point

How to support a someone who...

...HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED:

  1. 1.Listen to them.
  2. Tell them it’s not their fault, no matter what.
  3. Validate whatever it is that they are feeling.Feelings after a sexual assault are varied, but they are all normal.
  4. Offer them resources, like phone numbers or websites.
  5. Do not encourage them to report…list it as an option, but do not pressure them to make a report, they may not feel ready to do so.A good way to look at it from all sides is to ask them if they’d like to make a pros and cons list about reporting and not reporting.
  6. Offer to go with them to talk to someone else, make a report (if they decide to), or just to look for more information.It will help them to know that they have such non-judgmental support from you.
  7. Do not say antagonistic things about the attacker.In most cases, the attacker was someone close to your friend, and it may feel confusing for them to hear you talking in a harsh way about that person.

...HAS BEEN IN OR IS CURRENTLY IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP:

  1. Listen to them.
  2. Tell them it’s not their fault, no matter what.
  3. Validate whatever it is that they are feeling.Feelings around a DV relationship are varied, but they are all normal.
  4. Offer them resources, like phone numbers or websites.
  5. Offer to go with them to talk to someone else or just to look for more information.It will help them to know that they have such non-judgmental support from you.
  6. Do not say antagonistic things about the abuser.In most cases, the abuser was someone your friend cared about a lot, and it may feel confusing for them to hear you talking in a harsh way about that person.
  7. Do not tell them to leave.Abusive relationships are very complicated, and often staying in an abusive relationship may seem like the safest option for your friend.Statistics show that when people are most at risk for violence during a break-up and immediately after leaving, so help your friend to safety plan if they do decide to leave.

Myths About Domestic Violence

MYTH #1:Domestic/dating violence isn’t very common.

FACT: In the United States, 1 in 4 teens will experience some form of dating violence, and 1 in 3 women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in her life.

MYTH #2: Domestic violence only happens in low-income families.

FACT: Domestic violence happens in all kinds of families: rich and poor; urban; suburban and rural; in sexual minority communities; in every part of the country; in every racial and age group.

MYTH #3: Physical violence usually happens only once or twice in a relationship.

FACT: Most abuse happens over and over again. The violence gets more frequent and more severe over time, sometimes leading to death. 1/3 of all female murders are committed by an intimate partner.

MYTH #4: Some people’s behavior justifies or provokes being abused by their partner.

TRUTH: There is no justification for abuse. Abusers often try to excuse their behavior, often through blaming the survivor or refusing to take any accountability. For example, an abuser attempts to justify his abuse by claiming he’s only violent because she’s always yelling at him. As a result, she decides to stop yelling to try to placate him. He’ll likely next attempt to justify his behavior by claiming it’s because she’s too silent. And so on…

MYTH #5: Domestic violence doesn’t have a big effect on kids.

TRUTH: Domestic violence harms children even if they aren’t the target of the violence. Youth who know their moms or dads are being abused are likely to have low self-esteem and have problems trusting other people. Also, the presence of DV in the home is the greatest risk factor in predicting child abuse.

MYTH #6: Women in abusive relationships are bad moms. They harm the children by staying and inflict another kind of harm by leaving.

TRUTH: Women often make decisions about staying and leaving based on what they perceive to be in their children’s best interest. The children’s experience is often central to the mom’s decision-making.

MYTH #7: Abusers lose control and can’t contain their anger.

TRUTH: Most abusers are in control of their anger and violence. They make calculated decisions about who they target, when, and why.

MYTH #8: Abusers are addicted to drugs and alcohol and are only abusive when they’re using.

TRUTH: Drugs and alcohol are no more present in DV situations than they are anywhere else. They may make the violence worse but they are not the cause of the violence. Abusing is a choice, and the abuser is making the choice to abuse. In fact, some abusers use alcohol and drugs as an excuse to abuse their partners.