A Guide to Ending Dating Violence Against Women
One of the most common paradigms in which women experience violence are those in which they’re supposed to feel the safest.
Dating Violence – Stop Violence Against Women
It is a tragic, alarming, and utterly preventable cultural reality that women suffer increased rates of violence and harassment in practically every area of life. Antiquated gender roles, predatory societal figures, and a general lack of awareness all contribute to an ugly mosaic of mistreatment of women that has become astonishingly normalized and commonplace, even in the United States of 2019. This mistreatment permeates practically every environment, from our everyday social relationships to one of the most intimate, where women are supposed to feel the safest—their romantic relationships.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in three women have been the victims of physical violence by an intimate partner, one in five have experienced rape, and on average, nearly twenty people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. What’s even more alarming is that many of these incidents go unreported and never see the light of day. Solving the systemic problem of dating violence that impacts so many women requires creating an atmosphere of transparency of incidents, heightened accountability for offenders, and support and advocacy for victims. These conditions must be cultivated in both everyday life as well as in institutional paradigms.
Violence Against Women by the Numbers
The United Nations reports that up to 70 percent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Women who experience physical or sexual abuse are more than twice as likely to have an abortion, almost twice as likely to experience depression, and in some regions, 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV and other diseases.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime reports that half of women who are the victim of global homicides are killed by an intimate partner.
The CDC reports that intimate-partner violence is most prevalent in adolescence and young adulthood and starts to decline with age, demonstrating the need for early intervention.
Intimate-partner violence is linked to higher rates of sexually transmitted disease (STD) and mental illness such as depression and anxiety.
Victims of intimate-partner violence are also more likely to develop substance use issues like alcoholism, drug addiction and tobacco use.
A little more than a third of women who experience intimate-partner violence actually receive medical care for their injuries.
Data from the United States Department of Justice indicates that intimate-partner violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime in the United States.
Sustaining Factors of Dating Violence
One of the most crippling roadblocks to proactive domestic violence intervention is the stigma, judgment, and scrutiny that victims often face. They commonly hear questions like:
“Well, why don’t you just leave?
“How can you stay in a situation like that?”
Around 1/3 of women that experience intimate-partner violence actually receive medical attention
Primary Factors that Keep Women Trapped Inside of Abusive Relationships
Women are routinely trapped in situations in which their financial security is intertwined with their partner’s. In these situations, to flee an abusive relationship means practically starting life over with limited to no financial resources. Some are forced to decide between losing their financial stability and trying to navigate and “manage” the cycles of abuse.
Whether it’s fear for children’s safety or fear of never being able to see them again if a woman decides to leave, the victim’s exit strategies can very often be complicated by the presence of children in an abusive relationship. Often a woman will have to choose between keeping her children safe and happy and securing her own personal safety and independence. It’s important to realize that children who grow up in abusive family dynamics are at heightened risk for long-term mental health issues.
Lack of Self-Worth
Many victims of intimate-partner violence have been conditioned to believe that they deserve the abuse they sustain. These harmful and deeply misguided beliefs prompt a sort of codependency in which they feel as though they’re only complete if they’re keeping their partner happy—at all costs. Perpetrators of intimate-partner violence have a way of pinpointing and exploiting emotionally vulnerable people; however, these dynamics can also start and strengthen in relationships as time goes on.
Shame and Stigma
Many victims of intimate-partner violence are legitimately ashamed of their abusive relationship. They feel that, even though they’re strong, independent people in other aspects of their lives, they have abdicated their power and personal autonomy for the sake of maintaining a relationship. This fear of judgment stops them from coming forward and getting the help they need.
Accessing Help for Dating and Intimate-Partner Violence
There are more resources than ever to help women safely and effectively extricate themselves from an abusive dating dynamic. The domestic Violence Hotline is a proven and effective resource for women who need to escape immediately and who have little to no resources to live independently. There are also more and more state-sponsored resources for domestic abuse survivors to start over and cultivate a safe and healthy life for themselves and their children. If these are the circumstances you find yourself in, the most important thing is to recognize your situation and understand that it’s not your fault. Rather than retreat, self-medicate, or try to manage the abuse you’re sustaining, let someone help you reclaim your safety, health, and dignity.
Start the process of asking for help by telling a trusted friend, family member, or experienced professional what you’re going through. From there, you can have assistance creating a game plan to gradually start removing yourself from the abusive dynamic in which you find yourself trapped. Declare your independence today.