Are you a Victim of Domestic Violence?

averbal-abuse1. Is your partner threatening or violent towards you or the children?

2. Do you find yourself making excuses or minimizing your partner’s behavior?

3. Do you feel completely controlled by your partner?

4. Do you feel helpless, trapped, alone, and isolated?

5. Do you blame yourself for the violence?

6. Does your partner blame you and tell you that you are the cause of all his problems?

7. Do you blame the violence on stress, on drugs/alcohol, or a bad childhood?

8. Does your partner constantly accuse you of having affairs when he can’t account for 100% of your time? Does he tell you jealousy is a sign of love?

9. Do you fear going home?

10. Are you limited in your freedom like a child? (Go to the store and come straight home. It should take you 15 minutes.)

11. Do you find yourself lying to hide your partner’s real behavior (for example, saying you fell down the stairs when actually you were pushed)?

12. Are you embarrassed or humiliated by your partner in an effort to control your behavior, especially in public?

13. Does your partner abandon you, leave you places, or lock you out?

14. Does your partner hide your keys, mail, or other important papers?

Progression of Domestic Violence

PHASE 1: Pre-battering violence: verbal abuse, hitting objects, throwing objects, breaking objects, and making threats; increased tension, anger, blaming and arguing. When abusers hit or break objects or make threats, almost 100% resort to battering.

PHASE 2: Beginning levels: pushing, grabbing, restraining.

PHASE 3: Moderate levels : slapping, pinching, kicking, pulling hair.

PHASE 4: Severe levels : hitting, choking, beating with objects, use of weapons, and rape by intimidation, threat or force.

PHASE 5: Calm Stage: Abuser may deny or rationalize the violence, apologizing or promising not to repeat the abuse.(may decrease over time)

The progression of domestic violence may alternate from tension building, where the victim is walking on eggshells to avoid abuse, to the apologetic and remorseful abuser after a violent incident has taken place. Each relationship is different.

Sweet Baby Syndrome (How he gets to come back)

1. Honeymoon Syndrome : any bribe that will get her to return to him. (also known as “Hearts and Flowers”)

2. Super Dad Syndrome : he tells her that he will be a great dad if she returns. This works especially if he has neglected the kids in the past.

3. Revival Syndrome : this is not really a valid revival or salvation since he has probably only gone to church only a few times. “I have been going to church every Sunday since you left.” I have accepted Christ into my life.” He puts the responsibility for his battering on God.

4. Sobriety Syndrome : “If he can stop drinking he will stop beating me” Drinking does not cause beating–if it did, then they would beat strangers on the street.

5. Counseling Syndrome : “I have gone to counseling, I won’t do it anymore.” Long term counseling is needed and less than 1% voluntarily go into counseling.

Help for the abuser (Signs that treatment may be effective)

1. He accepts responsibility for his violence.
2. He goes into treatment without victim.
3. He goes into treatment with no strings attached. (“I’ll go if you will come back”)

No one deserves to be abused. The abuse is the responsibility of the batterer. There are several programs available for abusers to determine if treatment is necessary. Frequently, the court requires that batterers seek treatment. Change does not happen overnight. Just like the behavior took time to learn, it takes time to change. However, batterers must want to change. Some batterers will never change.

Once the violence occurs, the chances are great that it will occur again, unless there is some kind of intervention. Abusers must learn to accept responsibility for their behavior. This is only possible with outside help.

Common Characteristics of Battered Women

1. have low self esteem
2. believe all the myths about battering relationships
3. be a traditionalist, believing in family unity and feminine sex-role stereotype
4. accepts responsibility for the batterer’s actions
5. suffers from guilt, yet denies the terror and anger she feels
6. have severe stress reactions with psychophysiological complaints
7. use sex as a way to establish intimacy
8. believe that no one will be able to help her resolve her predicament

Batterered women come from all races, ages, socio-economic classes, religious affiliations, occupations, and educational backgrounds.

Common Characteristics of the Batterer

1. have low self esteem

2. believe all the myths about battering relationships

3. be a traditionalist, believing in male supremacy and the stereotyped masculine sex role

4. blame others for his actions

5. be pathologically jealous

6. present a dual personality

7. have severe stress reactions during which he uses drinking and battering to cope

8. frequently use sex as an act of aggression to enhance his self-esteem

9. does not believe his violent behavior should have negative consequences

10. uses threats and violence as a control mechanism

11. experienced or witnessed abuse when growing up

12. has been abusive to previous partners


Batterers come from all races, ages, socio-economic classes, religious affiliations, occupations, and educational backgrounds.

Behavior of The Batterer in Court

Batterers frequently present themselves in the following ways:

The “real” victim in the family.

Trying to keep the family together.

May acknowledge “family problems” but will deny any violence.

When confronted by his assaultive acts he may respond by saying: “She bruises easily,” “She was hysterical” or “She was drunk/high,” I had to restrain her.”

May make a complaint to the police department against his partner to counter the complaint she has made regarding his assaultive acts–uses the system.

May make multiple Children’s Protective Service reports alleging that his partner is neglecting or abusing the children.

May change lawyers, and aks for continuances to delay court hearings to increase his partners’ financial hardship.

May prosecute her when she has acted in self-defense, or will use the threat of prosecution to get her to return to him.

May assert that he knows key people in the criminal justice system, and that there is no way that she will get justice (reinforcing her helplessness.)

May give erroneous information about the criminal justice system to his partner to confuse her or to prevent her from acting on her own behalf.

May call her, before she is going to testify against him in a criminal case, to tell her it has been postponed or his attorney said she doesn’t have to testify.

Separation Violence

Many, perhaps most, people believe that battered women will be safe once they separate from the batterer. They also believe that women are free to leave abusers at any time. We have all heard, “All she had to do was leave. She brought it on herself.” However, leaving does not usually put an end to the violence. Batterers may, in fact, escalate their violence to coerce a battered woman into reconciliation or to retaliate for the battered woman’s perceived rejection or abandonment of the batterer.

Some men who believe they are entitled to a relationship with battered women or that they “own” their female partner, view women’s departure as an ultimate betrayal which justifies retaliation. Evidence of the gravity of separation violence is overwhelming. One study revealed that 73% of the battered women seeking emergency medical services sustained injuries after leaving the batterer. Another study showed that over 1/4 of the women killed by their male partners were attempting to end the relationship when they were killed.

Although leaving may pose additional hazards, at least in the short run, the research data and experience demonstrate that ultimately a battered woman can best achieve safety and freedom apart form the batterer.

Leaving requires planning and legal intervention to safeguard victims and their children. Victim advocates and battered women must work in partnership to assure that the risk of violence is minimized during the separation process. Getting out of an abusive relationship is not easy, but it can provide an opportunity for you and your children to live a life free of violence. Seeking counseling and support when you end a violent relationship is crucial for you and your children.

Long-Term Effects of Domestic Violence



The long term effects of domestic violence have not begun to be fully documented. Battered women suffer physical and mental problems as a result of domestic violence. Battering is the single major cause of injury to women, more significant than auto accidents, rapes, or muggings. In fact, the emotional and psychological abuse inflicted by batterers may be more costly to treat in the short-run than physical injury. Many of the physical injuries sustained by women seem to cause medical difficulties as women grow older. Arthritis, hypertension and heart disease have been identified by battered women as directly caused or aggravated by domestic violence suffered early in their adult lives.

Battered women lose their jobs because of absenteeism due to illness as a result of the violence. Absences occasioned by court appearances also jeopardize women’s livelihood. Battered women may have to move many times to avoid violence. Moving is costly and can interfere with continuity of employment. Battered women often lose family and friends as a result of the battering. First, the batterer isolates them from family and friends. Battered women then become embarrassed by the abuse inflicted upon them and withdraw from support persons to avoid embarrassment.

Some battered women are abandoned by their church when separating from abusers, since some religious doctrines prohibit separation or divorce regardless of the severity of abuse.

Many battered women have had to forgo financial security during divorce proceedings to avoid further abuse. As a result they are impoverished as they grow older. One-third of the children who witness the battering of their mothers demonstrate significant behavioral and/or emotional problems, including psychosomatic disorders, stuttering, anxiety and fears, sleep disruption, excessive crying and school problems.

Those boys who witness their fathers’ abuse of their mothers are more likely to inflict severe violence as adults. Data suggest that girls who witness maternal abuse may tolerate abuse as adults more than girls who do not. These negative effects maybe diminished if the child benefits from intervention by the law and domestic violence programs.


How does Domestic Violence Affect Children?

weeping child

The tragic reality is that anytime a mother is abused by her partner, the children are also affected in both overt and subtle ways. What hurts the mother, hurts the children.

When a mother is abused, the children may feel guilty that they cannot protect her, or that they are the cause of the strife. They may themselves be abused, or neglected while the mother attempts to deal with the trauma. The rate of child abuse is 6-15 times higher in families where the mother is abused.

Children get hurt when they see their parents being yelled at, pushed, or hit. They may feel confusion, stress, fear, shame, or think that they caused the problem. Children grow up learning that it’s okay to hurt other people or let other people hurt them. A third of all children who see their mothers beaten develop emotional problems. Boys who see their fathers beat their mothers are ten times more likely to be abusive in their adult intimate relationships.

Children may exhibit emotional problems, cry excessively, or be withdrawn or shy. Children may have difficulty making friends or have fear of adults. Children may suffer from depression and excessive absences from school. Children may use violence for solving problems at school and home. Children may be at greater risk of being a runaway, being suicidal, or committing criminal acts as juveniles and adults. Children who are experiencing stress may show it indifferent ways, including difficulty in sleeping, bedwetting, over-achieving, behavior problems, withdrawing, stomach aches, headaches and/or diarrhea.

Children who grow up in violent homes have much higher risks of becoming drug or alcohol abusers or being involved in abusive relationships, as a batterer or a victim. Children do not have to be abused themselves in order to be impacted by violence in the home.

The only answer to this problem is to treat domestic violence for what it is – a crime. We must fight the societal values that reinforce the stereotypes that encourage men to act aggressively and use violence to solve problems; that women are weak and submissive and should accept male dominance as the norm. Children must be taught at an early age non-violent conflict resolution.

In homes where domestic violence occurs, fear, instability, and confusion replace the love, comfort, and nurturing children need. These children live in constant fear of physical harm from the person who is supposed to care for and protect them. They may feel guilt at loving the abuser or blame themselves for causing the violence. “Domestic Violence, Understanding a Community Problem,” National Woman Abuse Prevention Fund.

Based on interviews with children in battered women’s shelters, 85% of children had stayed twice with friends or relatives because of the violence, and 75% over the age of 15 had run away at least twice.

Boys who witness family violence are more likely to batter their female partners as adults, and girls who witness their mother’s abuse have a higher rate of being battered as adults. These common sense observations are fact, not myth.

When Violence Occurs

CALL the police. Show police any injuries. Keep medical records and take pictures of injuries. Ask for help in getting to a domestic abuse shelter. DOCUMENT THE ABUSE.


Asap Reforms is an initiative by Aduke (A dancer, singer and Actress). It’s a movement that aims to use entertainment to bring socio-political issues to the fore. The first issue on the cards is #DomesticViolence.
We would be Marching in March from Unilag in Lagos, through Bariga and Somolu sharing fliers and educating people on the issues, cause and effects of #Domestic Violence.
Then over the 4 weekends, we intend to stage the play “Onions Make Us Cry” written by Zainab Jallo performed by Crown Troupe of Africa as directed by Segun Adefila.
With the walk, we can reach the grass root, while the chat session and plays can get the message across to the more upwardly mobile.

It warms my heart, knowing that initiatives like this are being taken in Nigeria, and i urge everyone out there in Nigeria to support the march, participate in the chit chat session, and also see the play,educate yourselves, and i hope this marks the beginning of bigger and better initiatives to come.

For more information feel free to follow them on twitter @asapreforms and @itsaduke.

“And to all those involved with ASAP REFORMS, i say a heartfelt well-done.

28 Signs of An Abuser

wife spanking1. Unemployed or Underemployment.
Underemployment is not necessarily an objective phenomenon; it may be the subjective response to the man’s failing to meet his own expectations. Educational and occupational attainment frequently is less than wife’s, such status discrepancies are painful even should the husband bring home a higher salary.

2. Emotional Dependency.
Emotional dependency on the spouse is usually not recognized or understood, but is expressed through demands for constant reassurance and gratification. This may explain in part why spouse abuse often begins during wife’s pregnancy.

3. High Investment in Marriage.
Wants to preserve marriage at any cost and will go to great lengths to do so. In the event of separation or divorce, tends to immediately replace lost spouse with a new partner.

4. Boundaries.

  • Violates your personal space.
  • Intimidates you by getting too close.
  • Touches, pinches, grabs you against your will.

5. Quick Involvement.

  • Sweeps you off your feet.
  • Love at first sight.
  • “You’re the only one for me.”
  • “I have to have you.” “I think about you all day / all night”
  • Desperately pressures you for a commitment so you’re engaged, sleeping together in less than 6 months or living together in less than 12 months.

6. Controlling Behavior.

  • Controls where you go, what you do, with whom and for how long.
  • Controls money and money decisions, won’t allow you to share expenses or refuses to work and won’t share expenses.
  • Protective to the point of controlling.
  • Says he’s angry when you’re “late” because he “cares.”
  • Takes your car keys, won’t let you go to church, work, or school. Won’t let you drive.

7. Jealousy.Angry about your relationship with other men, women, coworkers, even children and family. This insecurity and possessiveness causes him to accuse you of flirting or having affairs, to call frequently or drop by to check up on you, even check your car mileage or have you followed.

8. Abusive Family of Origin.
Was physically, sexually or emotionally abused as a child or witnessed spouse abuse. He sees violence as normal behavior, a natural part of family life.

9. Low Self-Esteem.

  • Guards his fragile sense of self by acting tough and macho.
  • Pumps up his fragile sense of self with sex.
  • Imagines you threaten his manhood.
  • Damages your self-esteem, demeans your growth, demands your silence.

10. Alcohol/Drug Abuse.

  • Abuses alcohol/drugs, tries to get you drunk, berates you if you won’t get high.
  • He may deny his drug problem and refuse to get help. Don’t think you can change him or that alcohol/drug abuse causes violent behavior. They are two separate problems.

11. Difficulty Expressing Emotions.

  • Unable to identify feelings and express them directly andappropriately.
  • He may say he’s “hurt” and sulk when he’s really angry.
  • He displaces anger at his boss or himself onto you.
  • Blame Shifts; he’s never responsible for what happens.

12. Blames Others for His Feelings or Problems.

  • Believes others are out to get him and he’s the victim.
  • Blames you for everything that goes wrong.
  • Will say “You make me mad,” “You make me happy,” “I can’t help getting angry” to manipulate you.
  • Holds you responsible for his suicidal or self-abusive or sexual- acting-out behavior.

13. Hypersensitivity.
Quick temper, unable to handle frustration without getting angry, easily insulted. Will “rant and rave” about minor things like traffic tickets or request to do chores.

14. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Seems like two different people with mood swings from nice to explosive. May change his behavior around the guys. May be very sociable around others and only abusive with you.

15. Unrealistic Expectations.

  • Very dependent on you for all his physical and emotional needs (“You’re all I need”).
  • Expects you to live up to his ideals of a perfect partner, mother, lover, friend.

16. Rigid Gender Roles.

  • Expects a woman to stay at home, serve and obey him.
  • Gets angry if you don’t fulfill his wishes and anticipate his needs.
  • Speaks for you.
  • He thinks it’s OK for men to keep women “in line” by force or intimidation.

17. Rigid Religious Beliefs.Justifies rigid sex roles and the physical/emotional/sexual domination of women and children with strict or distorted interpretations of scripture.

18. Disrespect for Women in General.

  • Ridicules and insults women, sees women as stupid and inferior to men
  • Tells sexist jokes (“dumb blond”, “PMS” jokes).
  • Refers to women in derogatory or non-human terms (“babe”, “chick”, “fox”, “bitch”) or as specific parts of anatomy
  • Sees women only as sex-objects, uses prostitutes or has affairs
  • De-values women’s accomplishments and work, acts like women are second-class citizens.

19. Emotional Abuse.

  • He may ignore your feelings, continually criticize you and call you names like “fat, ugly, stupid”
  • curse and yell at you
  • belittle your accomplishments
  • manipulate you with lies, contradictions, and crazy-making tactics
  • humiliate you in private or public
  • Uses sarcasm and says it’s ‘humor.’
  • regularly threaten to leave or tell you to leave, keep you awake or
  • wake you up to argue or verbally abuse you.

20. Isolation.

  • An acquaintance rapist will try to separate you from others to a secluded spot.
  • Batterers will try to keep you from working or attending school, move you to a rural area, restrict your use of the phone or car.
  • He’ll try to cut you off from men, women, family and children by saying “You’re a whore,” “You’re a lesbian,” “You’re tied to your parent’s apron strings,” or “You’re spoiling the kids.”

21. Reliance on Pornography.

  • Rapists, child molesters and men who sexually abuse or rape their wives or other women often have an abundance of pornographic literature, internet bookmarks, magazines, or videos.
  • They may want to involve you in their interest by photographing you or taking you to pornographic movies or shops.
  • They may coerce you into doing things sexually you are uncomfortable with or wouldn’t normally do and then say that you “liked it” or “asked for it.”

22. Sexual Abuse.

  • Refuses platonic relationship if dating
  • uses “playful” force in sex
  • uses sulking, sympathy or anger to manipulate you into having sex
  • emotionally coerces or forces you to have sex or hurts you during sex
  • demands sex when you’re scared, ill, tired or
  • starts to have sex when you’re asleep, drunk, or unable to give consent.

23. Cruelty to Animals, Children, or Others.

  • Teases, bullies, abuses or harshly punishes animals, children, elderly, disabled weaker people or other women.
  • Is insensitive to others’ pain.
  • Tortures or kills pets to feel powerful or hurt you.
  • Threatens to kidnap the children if you leave.
  • Punishes or deprives the children when angry at you.
  • Punishes the children for behavior they’re incapable of (whipping a 2 year-old for wet diapers).

24. Past Violence.
Any history of violence to “solve” problems. Justifies hitting or abusing women in the past, but “they made me do it.” Friends, relatives or ex-partners say he’s abusive (Batterers beat any woman they’re with. You didn’t cause it and you can’t control it or cure it).

25. Fascination with Weapons.
Plays with guns, knives, or other lethal weapons, threatening to “get even” with you or others. Tells you he knows how to kill someone and/or how to hide bodies; or that he has ‘friends’ who will ‘take care of you’.

26. Threats of Violence.

  • Any threats of physical force to control you or make you do something should be taken seriously.
  • He may threaten to hurt you or your family. Non-batterers do not say things like “I’ll kill you” or “I’ll break your neck” or “I’m out to get you now.”
  • Posts threats or defamatory material about you on the internet.

27. Breaking or Striking Objects.

Punishes you by breaking loved objects, terrorizes you into submission (If he doesn’t want you to be a student, he may destroy school books or break lamps). Non-batterers do not beat on tables, punch holes in walls, destroy furniture, throw objects at you to threaten you. The message is “You’re next! You’re just an object I can control and I can break you like our china.”

28. Any Force During an Argument.
Hurts you in anger or in “play”, pushing , shoving, pulling, grabbing you by the collar, holding you down, restraining you from leaving the room, slapping, punching, hitting, kicking, or burning.
This cycle of violence is followed by a “honeymoon” period, then an escalation of tension and more violence. The episodes of violence will get more frequent, more intense, and will not stop on their own.
ONE OR TWO of these traits is ENOUGH to consider him ABUSIVE!

What’s the Difference Between Normal Marital Conflict and Abuse?

Is there a difference between normal marital conflict and marital abuse?question-mark-face

Every marriage experiences some degree of conflict. Most marriages experience strong differences of opinion. Arguments are not uncommon. Spouses are occasionally grumpy and unkind to each other. Spouses lose their tempers and can sometimes blow up at each other. Everyone is capable of being hypercritical or falsely accusing his or her mate. Small skirmishes for control over a particular issue can break out from time to time. These are all a part of the normal tension and conflict that inevitably arise when an imperfect man and woman join their lives together in a marital relationship.

Marital abuse, whether or not it involves physical violence, is very different. One key difference is that marital abuse is a one-sided, oppressive relationship where one spouse establishes a pattern of unhealthy control. Even though there might seem to be times of peace and affection, these good times linger in the shadows of the subtle or not so subtle controlling tactics an abusive mate uses for the purpose of getting his or her own way.

For example, an abusive spouse may prevent his (or her) partner from seeing family members, going out with friends, or going back to college. He may try to regulate the people his spouse talks to, where his spouse goes, or how and when his spouse spends money. He may demand all of his mate’s attention. He may put his spouse on an irrational guilt trip for talking to or doing things with other people. He may consider his spouse’s needs as an infringement on or a betrayal of his own needs. He may act insanely jealous and falsely accuse his partner of cheating on him. He may constantly monitor and check up on the whereabouts of his spouse. Many are known to lash out and belittle their spouse when they don’t get their own way or when they feel betrayed or abandoned. Others threaten to divorce or to physically hurt their spouse or destroy a cherished possession, all in an effort to intimidate and punish their mate.

While normal marital conflict can at times seem far worse than what it really is, it tends to lessen in time because of the loving foundation of the relationship—“love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). That important foundation is painfully missing in a marriage marked by abuse. Because of the extreme levels of selfishness at work in the heart of the abusive spouse, marital abuse, if not confronted, will only escalate and get worse over time.

Another important difference is that normal marital conflict and marital abuse require different levels of intervention. While some married couples who experience normal conflict may require help from an objective and wise third party, many can eventually work through their differences by themselves within an atmosphere of mutual love, consideration, and forgiveness. Marital abuse, however, is a different story. Due to safety concerns and an abuser’s excessive self-focus and chronic complaints of being a victim, addressing marital abuse and restoring the relationship is a much more difficult and complicated process. It requires outside help from those who can provide guidance, support, and protection for an abused spouse as the abuser is confronted and held accountable.

While most abusive spouses will insist on joint-marital counseling once their pattern of domination and control is exposed, this is thelast place to begin addressing marital abuse. For his or her own reasons, neither spouse is ready for the kind of honest and open conversation that is needed for marital counseling to be beneficial. Almost without exception, abusive spouses will derail the counseling process by trying to micromanage it. And most are far from being able to discuss their pattern of control without acting like a victim. On the other side, abused spouses will not feel safe enough to openly share their true thoughts and concerns, let alone admit to any faults they may have. They are understandably afraid that their partners will shut them down, twist their words, or later make them pay. Years of being controlled have also taught an abused spouse to see things mostly through the eyes of her (or his) spouse in order to avoid doing something “wrong.” Marriage counseling will not be beneficial until abused spouses recover the ability to think for themselves and the freedom to show up as a person in the relationship.

Abusive spouses who are truly serious about stopping their pattern of domestic abuse will agree to pursue a path of individual counseling (separate from their spouse). Their individual counseling is designed to increase their awareness and insight into how they try to control their spouse, the damage it has caused to their marital relationship, and why they feel such a deep and pressing need to dominate their partner and maintain a victim mentality. Joint-marital counseling is only possible once abusers stop playing the victim in the marriage, end all of their excuses, and consistently own up to their patterns of control and the harm it has caused. Only then are they ready to have honest conversations with their spouses and to continue their own journey of working through and finding healing and freedom from their own personal wounds and insecurities.


The Facts about Domestic Violence


Domestic Violence Defined

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is a pattern of coercive behavior that is used by one person to gain power and control over another. It may include the use of physical and sexual violence, verbal and emotional abuse, stalking and economic abuse. Sexual, emotional and psychological intimidation may also occur. Domestic violence may include:

Physical Violence

  • Pushing, shoving, grabbing, slapping, punching, and restraining among other acts
  • Physical intimidation (blocking doors, throwing objects)
  • Use of weapons
  • Stalking (See OVW Stalking Fact Sheet)

Sexual Abuse

  • Attacks on sexual parts of the body
  • Forced sexual activities
  • Pressure to have sex
  • Rape (including marital/partner rape)

Emotional/Psychological/Verbal Abuse

  • Threats and coercive tactics
  • Controlling what the victim can and cannot do
  • Undermining a victim’s self-worth and self-esteem
  • Humiliation, denigration
  • Threatening to harm or kill a pet
  • Isolating the victim from family or friends
  • Blaming the abuse on the victim
  • Interrogating the victim and their children
  • Name-calling and yelling

Economic Abuse

  • Maintaining control over finances
  • Withholding access to money
  • Making the victim financially dependent
  • Not allowing the victim to work or go to school

Domestic violence occurs within opposite-sex relationships as well as same-sex relationships, between intimate partners who are married, divorced, living together, dating or who were previously in a relationship. It is important to note that “[d]omestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses and the community at large”(OVW, 2008).

What we know about Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a gender-based crime with women being more likely to experience domestic violence than men. According to the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) about 1.5 million women are raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually( Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, which measured only physical assaults, “there were 691,710 nonfatal violent victimizations committed by current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends of the victims during 2001(Rennison, 2003). Of these, 85% were against women(Rennison, 2003). The NVAWS also found that 22.1 percent of women surveyed, compared to 7.4 percent of men, reported being physically assaulted by a current or former partner in their lifetime(Rennison, 2003 ).

Women also report suffering more severe physical violence than men. Women are 2 to 3 times more likely to report minor physical attacks (pushing, grabbing, shoving) than men(Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). By comparison, women are 7 to 14 times more likely than men to report serious physical attacks (beating, strangulation, threats of weapons or use of weapons)( Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998 ).

In 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner, while 440 men were killed by an intimate partner( Rennison, 2003). A more recent BJS study suggests that 33% of female victims compared to 4% of male victims were killed by an intimate partner.

Victims of domestic violence experience many barriers when leaving abusive relationships. These include fear of the abuser, believing the abuser will take their children, hoping the abuser will change, embarrassment, shame and self-blame about their situation. Limited financial options, lack of transportation, lack of knowledge the services exist, and lack of proximity to those services are also factors.

Specific communities that experience multiple forms of disadvantage can experience additional barriers. These include language barriers, exclusion from their community, fear of deportation and a lack of culturally relevant services.

Not all incidents of domestic violence are reported to authorities. The NVAWS found among women over the age of 18, “[a]pproximately one-fifth of all rapes, one-quarter of all physical assaults, and one-half of all stalking perpetrated against female respondents by intimates were reported to the police”(Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000 ).

It is important to note that surveys may not capture homeless individuals or those living in institutional settings such as homeless shelters or battered women’s shelters(Rennison & Welchans, 2000).

Domestic Violence and Specific Populations

Members of certain groups have unique vulnerabilities when experiencing domestic violence. Members of specific populations may be harmed by behaviors when non-members would not. It is important to note that members of specific populations are subject to all forms of abuse as experienced by general populations.

Individuals with Disabilities: Multiple small-scale, but few large-scale studies, exist about domestic violence against individuals with disabilities, particularly in the United States. Existing small-scale studies report that nearly 40% of women with disabilities report being victims of domestic violence, a percentage far higher than the general population(Nosek & Howland, 1998 ). Acts of domestic violence against individuals with disabilities include withholding needed medications and assistive technologies.

Significant barriers to reporting exist, which include fear of losing a caregiver, inability to verbally communicate as a result of a disability, and fear of not being taken seriously, among others.

Racial and Ethnic Communities: Various groups experience domestic violence at disproportionate rates. The NVAWS found that African-American and Native American/Alaskan Indian women and men reported higher rates of domestic violence than did women and men from other communities of color(Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000), while Asian/Pacific Islander women and men tended to report lower rates of intimate partner violence than did women and men from other minority backgrounds(Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). It also found that 23.4% of Hispanic/Latina women had been domestic violence victims in their lifetime(Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported that African-American women experienced domestic violence at a rate 35% higher than Caucasian women(Rennison & Welchans, 2000).

An important consideration with respect to race and domestic violence is the impact of economic class. A National Institute of Justice (NIJ) publication suggests that “African-Americans and whites with the same economic characteristics have similar rates of intimate violence, but African-Americans have a higher overall rate of intimate violence due in part to higher levels of economic distress and location in disadvantaged neighborhoods”(Benson & Fox, 2004).

Members of racial and ethnic communities may not report all victimization to authorities, for fear of racist responses to themselves, the abuser, and their family.

Immigrant Women: Immigrant women often remain in violent relationships because of their citizenship status. Abusers may threaten to have the victim deported (removed) by reporting their undocumented status to the Department of Homeland Security, to revoke his residency sponsorship of her, or refuse to file necessary immigration petitions that would provide the victim with lawful status in the U.S(Pendleton, 2003)(Shetty & Kaguyutan, 2002). Additionally, many immigrant women face obstacles such as language barriers, a lack of understanding of the American legal system, and cultural customs when leaving violent relationships(Raj & Silverman, 2002).

Rural Women: Very little quantitative data exist on women in rural communities, but qualitative data suggest they too experience higher rates of domestic violence(Websdale, 1998)(Adler, 1996). Poverty, lack of public transportation systems, shortages of healthcare providers, minimal insurance or lack of health insurance and decreased access to resources are many barriers faced by women living in rural communities(Johnson, 2000).

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Individuals: In 2006, a total of 3,534 incidents of domestic violence affecting LGBT individuals were reported to the 33 community-based anti-violence programs in 12 regions that make up the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)(Fountain, 2007 ). Although quantitative data on LGBT victimization is limited, available qualitative data suggests that LGBT victimization is underreported, for numerous reasons including fear that the police are homophobic and the fear of being “outed” to family, friends, and coworkers, among other reasons.

Individuals in Later Life: Limited quantitative data exists on victims of domestic violence in later life. Often, this data is subsumed under the heading of “elder abuse,” of which domestic violence in later life is a subset(Brandl, 2002). The average annual number of assaults against victims over age 50 reported to police from 1993-1999 was 29,110(Rennison, 2001). Of these reported crimes, 68.7 percent were committed by a spouse, 13.3 percent by an ex-spouse, and 18.0 percent by a boyfriend or girlfriend(Rennison, 2001). Underreporting is common within this population. Statistics demonstrate only “39% of such crimes against women age 50 or older were reported to the police. In contrast, between 1993 and 1999, 57% of the violence sustained by females age 25-34 and those age 35-49 was reported to the police”(Rennison, 2001 (pg. 8)).

Youth and Children:The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1.5 million high school students nationwide have experienced physical dating violence(CDC, 2003). See VAWOR The Facts About Teen Dating Violence for further information.

Equally important is children’s exposure to domestic violence. According to the recently completed National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV)(Hamby, Finkelhor, Turner & Ormrod, 2009). 6.6% of American children and youth are exposed to a physical assault by one parent against the other each year, 5.7% were exposed to psychological and emotional maltreatment by one parent against the other and 1.3% were exposed to severe physical assaults of a parent. This nationally representative survey funded by OJJDP found that 25% of children are exposed to some form of family violence over their entire childhood (0-17 years).

Of the homes where police responded to domestic violence calls in five U.S. cities, 43% of the children in these homes were under 12 years old (Rennison & Welchans, 2000 ). Exposure to domestic violence is associated with a host of increased childhood problems, such as acting aggressively with others, depression and anxiety(Kitzmann, Gaylord, Holt, & Kenny, 2003)(Wolfe, Crooks, Lee, MacIntyre-Smith, & Jaffe, 2003 ). A 20-year prospective study of 543 children found that exposure to domestic violence between parents during childhood was a key statistical predictor of both perpetrating violence against an adult partner as well as receiving it from an adult partner(Ehrensaft, Cohen, Brown, Smailes, Chen, & Johnson, 2003). Similarly, the retrospective Adverse Childhood Experiences Study of 8,629 adults found that living in a home where domestic violence was occurring doubled the likelihood that a child would be a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence in adulthood(Edleson, 2004)(Jaffe)(Kerig, 2003)(Margolin & Gordis, 2004). Many children show resilience in the face of adversity and the majority of exposed children do not necessarily grow up to become victims or perpetrators of domestic violence. See VAWOR Children’s Exposure to Domestic Violence In-Brief for further information.

Adverse Effects of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence not only has an effect on a victim’s physical and mental health, but other aspects of life and care giving as well. A 2003 survey found that 1 in 4 homeless mothers reported being physically abused by an intimate partner in the last year.(NCFH, 2003 ) Additionally, a 2005 survey showed 50% of U.S. cities report domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness(USCM, 2007).

The CDC found that victims of intimate partner physical assault lost 7.2 days from paid work, while victims of intimate partner rape lost 8.1 days(NCIPC, 2003). Time lost is calculated per victimization, not per victim. Thus, victims of repeated assaults may miss more paid work.

A number of studies suggest a strong correlation between domestic violence victimization and mental health concerns. These studies suggest increased rates of depression (both short-term and long-term) and post-traumatic stress disorder(Campbell & Lewandowski )(Coker, Davis, Arias, Desai, Sanderson, & Brandt, 2002). Studies also suggest associations between experiences of violence and the use of substances as a coping, or escape, mechanism(Bennett & Bland, 2008).

The NVAWS found that women physically assaulted by an intimate partner were more than twice as likely to be phsyically injured as were assaulted men(Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000 ).


Do I write with anger?


Do I write with anger? Or do I write with joy?

I say anger because I allowed him hurt me so bad, and for so many years.

I say joy because I finally had the guts to stand up to him and walk away.

I guess I will write with a mixture of both.

I’ll tell you what will happen after you are done reading this piece, if you are a woman, you will shed a tear, and hate men for about 15mins, slowly the hate will turn to relief, relief in the sense that you are not going through what you just read about, and relief will now give way to gratitude, gratitude to the present man in your life for being so sweet and kind and never laying a finger on you, and that’s where the problem lies, why should you be grateful to anyone for not abusing you, when they don’t have the right to abuse you in the first place.

I come from a very wonderful family, I was never abused, I was never molested, I was never made to feel useless in anyway, My ex-husband had a relatively wonderful family, so can someone tell me why he did all the things he did to me?

I’ll answer that question, he did all those things because he could, and every time he did it, I was grateful it wasn’t worse, and I found ways of justifying it, I would say to myself “maybe I shouldn’t have spoken back the way I did” or “I should have micro waved it a bit” or why did I mix 2 different shades of black in the washing machine”.

No matter how flimsy or stupid the excuses where, I always consoled myself in them, at some point I felt he’d just hit me to see how hard a blow he could throw, I would take the beatings, I would take the insults and I would take the rape, yes the rape, and I would be grateful it wasn’t worse than it was. At some point I wore so much make up, it was hard to tell where the makeup stopped and my face started, I would spend so much time making up my face, because it was literarily blue and black.

I am very sure you have heard these stories before, he beat me, he yelled at me, he raped me etc, well he did all those things, but the twist here was that my ex was sick, he beat me so he could get turned on, yes you read it right, my pain was his aphrodisiac, with every blow, you could see him develop an erection, and on days he drew blood, it was like a pay rise for him.

I went through this for 6 years and 2 children, it hurt while I was conceiving my children, and it hurt while I was giving birth to them.

I was his wife and he used me to achieve his sick sexual desires, he would pick on the smallest things just so he could get angry, beat me up and rape me, yes I call it rape because I was never a willing participant, he would hog tie me, and violate me, he forced me to have anal sex, and till this day I have rectal trauma.

One day I just had enough, while he was flying into one of his fits, I picked up a knife and while he was trying to hit me, I swung the knife and slashed his wrist, he stopped in horror, I dropped the knife, went upstairs, picked up my kids, packed a small bag, and walked back into the kitchen, I looked him dead in the eye and told him I was leaving and he should not dare try to stop me, I went home to my mother and told her everything, she immediately called a lawyer and I filed for divorce, he didn’t argue or object, and he never fought for custody of the kids, I guess he was too stunned by my reaction that night, which goes to show how true this African proverb goes “if you keep pushing a goat to the wall, some day it will bite you”.

Well this is my short story, I took all his guff for so long, and one day I realized I was better off without this, so I walked away.

I walked away.

Interview By Arome Ameh (The Priest)