An Overview of Violence Against Women
Domestic Violence Facts
- Domestic Violence occurs in every country and in families of all races, cultures, religion, and income levels. It can happen to people of all ages and all sexual orientations.
- Nationally, one in four women will be physically or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner in her lifetime.
- More than one-third of all women who sought care in hospital emergency rooms for violence-related injuries were injured by an intimate partner.
- Studies show that children exposed to domestic violence may become anxious, depressed, or aggressive. They may begin doing poorly in school and could develop drug and alcohol problems.
The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defines violence against women as:
"any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty occurring in public or private life."
Violence against women can take many forms. Abuse can occur in a marriage, relationship or in a dating context, and are seen in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. The signs of abuse are common, but someone in an abusive situation may not recognize them because they have become a normal part of their relationship. If your partner does any of the following things to you, you should talk to someone about what you are experiencing.
Signs and Symptoms of An Abusive Relationship Your partner:
- Monitors your daily life and controls your money and what you spend
- Constantly criticizes you and tries to humiliate you in front of others
- Blames you for anger and violence
- Is jealous and accuses you of cheating
- Tries to isolate you by discouraging you from spending time with family, friends, or even going to work or school
- Gets angrier when drinking
- Threatens to hurt you or your loved ones (including pets)
- Causes you physical harm (hits, punches, kicks, slaps or shoves you)
- Forces you to have sex against your will
Domestic violence is the single greatest cause of injury to women, and approximately 22% of women in the United States have reported being physically assaulted by an intimate partner.
Psychological or Emotional Abuse
Threats, insults and humiliation can be as damaging as physical abuse because it can destroy a woman's self-worth, independence, and further insure that she is more likely to stay in the relationship because she believes she does not have control, and is not worthy of anything better.
Sexual assault is when you are forced to be involved in any type of sexual activity against your will and includes touching, vaginal, anal or oral penetration, sexual intercourse (or attempted intercourse) and of course any kind of child molestation. Women are more at risk of being sexually assaulted by someone they know, rather than by a stranger.
Control and Isolation
When someone tries to control every aspect of someone's life, and attempts to isolate him/her from friends and loved ones in order to hide this behavior, it is considered abuse. Financial abuse occurs when a woman is not allowed to work, have a bank account or access to any funds. As with psychological abuse, this type of abuse takes away her control, isolates her from the outside world, thereby insuring that she feels dependent on the man.
Impact on Children
Studies have shown that of the children who are in a home where there is intimate partner violence, 90% of them are exposed to this abuse. When children are exposed to any type of violence in the home, they become more likely to engage in angry and violent behavior, and may find themselves when they are adults also victims of abuse.
Teenagers also often experience violence in dating relationships. Statistics show that one in three teenagers have experienced violence in a dating relationship. In dating violence, one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through abuse. Dating violence crosses all racial, economic and social lines. Most victims are young women, who are also at greater risk for serious injury.
Date rape is the most common form of rape, with 1 in 4 girls who are expected to fall victim to rape or attempted rape before they reach the age of 25, and 3 out of 5 rapes occurring before a woman reaches the age of 18. Peer pressure, verbal and emotional abuse, as well as alcohol and drug use and date rape drugs all contribute to the prevalence of this problem among our young girls and women. In fact, a large number of these rapes are being committed on college campuses.
One in 12 women have been stalked at sometime in her life. Mostly, women are stalked by former boyfriends or husbands, and oftentimes they were abusive in the relationship. Following someone, showing up uninvited at home or work, harassing phone calls, notes or any type of vandalism to the woman's property constitutes stalking. Often the behavior of the stalker can escalate into violence, so it is important to take the proper precautions if you are being stalked, and if you are in immediate danger, get to a safe place or call 911 immediately. You should also file a police complaint, and keep a record of all stalking incidents and any messages or notes that you receive. Don't be ashamed to tell others what is going on, the more people (family, neighbors, co-workers) who that know you are being stalked, the better chance you have of staying safe.