October is “officially” the “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.” But every month is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” because we are aware that our sisters, our moms, our aunts, grandmothers, female friends, and neighbors are dying at the hands of abusive partners. In the time it will take you to read this blog, click on the links and read them, six women have been murdered by a spouse or family member. What are the statistics, and what can we do?
In 2018, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the “Global Study on Homicide: Gender-related Killing of Women and Girls.” As of 2017, “The study suggested that violence against women has increased in the last five years,” noting that women make up 82 percent of intimate partner homicide victims. “The most dangerous place for women,” a review of the study concludes, “is in their homes.” But we have known this all along, haven’t we, ladies?
We know it every time the police cruisers stop at the neighbor’s house – again – and watch the abuser being walked out in handcuffs – again – only to return to the house until the next time, and the police show up … again. We feel it when we sit with our loved ones in government buildings that smell of floor cleaner and despair, as we learn to file restraining orders in a confusing world of so-called democracy and courtroom gibberish. We have tasted it in a bloody lip after a beating. We have cried over it, buried it, swore we would never go back, begged someone we love to never go back, and supported one another at awareness rallies and remembrance ceremonies. It is so much a part of a woman’s culture it has become a given: you will be abused by an intimate partner in your lifetime. Get used to it.
According to the UNODC study, violence against women has increased in the last five years. Could there be a correlation with the advancement of online social networking, the advances in technology? The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) has released a 2018 survey entitled “Tech Abuse: Information From the Field.” The study summarizes that “technology misuse is often intertwined with other forms of abuse survivors are facing in their daily life.” Abusers are using social media to stalk, terrorize, threaten, and monitor victims. They are using hidden cameras and recording devises in the home, office, or vehicles to secretly spy. Until now, types of abuse have been labeled Emotional, Physical, Psychological, Sexual, or Financial (also, Religious a category of this author’s). In this age, now “Technical” is added.
But this does not mean victims are helpless against this new category. For an excellent article on technical abuse, and also how domestic violence victims/survivors can use it to their advantage, click here:
Women must have survival tools. We have to understand what the “red flags” are in an abusive relationship, how to escape abusers, and how to prevent our boys from becoming abusive men. It is akin to boarding a ship or an airplane for a journey. There are safety precautions before takeoff: Safety checks, equipment, training, rules, and laws. Because once in the sky it is too late to ask, “is the safety equipment working?” And the middle of the ocean is a bad time to wonder if there are enough lifeboats. So think of any voyage into relationships the same way: Do you have the safety list (knowing the warning signs of an abuser, safe dating tips)? Are laws in place (what is “stalking”)?
The numbers are horrifying. But women are all too aware of what we face. And now technology has introduced a new tool for abusers, but victims can also use it to fight back. And we are not helpless – we can arm ourselves to survive. This is why every month is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.”
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911. For help, resources or information, free confidential trained advocates are available 24/7/365 at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 1-800-799-7233 (1-800-787-3224 for TTY)
Judith A. Yates has been educating and teaching about domestic violence for over 25 years. For more information, and to buy her book on "How to Recognize The Devil: common sense self-defense and crime prevention," go to judithayates.com