October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime. Separated and divorced males and females are at a greater risk of domestic violence. However, it is difficult to track the percentage of divorces that were the result of domestic violence simply because they are not recorded as such and because many divorcees hide that they were/are a victim of abuse. Even if you are not a victim of domestic violence, as a community, we owe it to one another to become educated in order to detect, and offer support and shelter for victims suspected domestic abuse.
In a national survey of American families, 50% of the men and women who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children. Protect yourself and your children. Keep good records. As long as you are still living with your spouse or partner, record every incident of physical or emotional abuse that involves you or your kids. Write down the date, time, and place of every event, along with a description of what happened and any injuries to you or your children. Make a plan to stay safe – after you decide to get out, do some planning to put a safety net in place. Try to save some cash, and stash some clothes for yourself and your kids with a friend. Make sure that friend’s home is not somewhere your partner would immediately think to look for you (i.e. Not your best friend’s or parent’s home).
If you are a victim of domestic abuse know that you can get help. There are programs across the country which provide immediate assistance for survivors of domestic abuse and their families. One amazing resource here in the Twin Cities the Domestic Abuse Project, or DAP, which helps victims develop safety plans, file protective orders, and find safe shelter. They also reach out to all victims of domestic violence identified in Minneapolis police reports to provide ongoing support and make critical resource referrals. DAP Therapy works with adult male perpetrators of violence, adult women survivors of violence, and children and adolescents who have witnessed or experienced abuse. To find out more about DAP visit www.domesticabuseproject.com.
Other helpful links and phone numbers:
– The Minnesota Domestic Violence Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1.866.223.1111 www.dayoneservices.org
– The National Domestic Violence Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1.800.799.SAFE www.theHotline.org
– Locate a domestic violence shelter near you at www.domesticshelters.org