Robert Montgomery said, “Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.”
What a beautiful sentiment. Home should be a place where all who abide there feel safe and cherished. Unfortunately, there are some homes that know violence and fear instead.
According to the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2.3 million Americans are raped or physically assaulted by a current or former intimate partner each year. One in four women will experience intimate partner abuse at some point in their lives. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that, on average, more than three women are murdered every day by their current or former husbands or boyfriends.
Domestic violence can also have a devastating affect on children. Thirty to sixty percent of those who abuse their spouses or intimate partners also abuse children in the household. Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to become abusers themselves. Girls who grow up in homes watching their mothers being abused often end up in abusive relationships as adults.
According to the SafeHaven website, “domestic violence is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, verbal and psychological attacks used to control an intimate partner or family member. Without intervention, violence typically escalates in frequency and severity.”
SafeHaven lists the following as examples of abusive behavior:
*Pushes, shoves, holds you against your will, prevents you from leaving.
*Slaps, bites, chokes, hits, punches, throws things at you.
*Subjects you to reckless driving.
*Threatens or hurts you with a weapon or object.
*Rapes you or forces sex.
*Accuses you of having sex with others.
*Insults or drives away your family and friends, isolates you.
*Humiliates you in public or private.
*Punishes or deprives kids when mad at you, abuses pets.
*Keeps you from working, controls your money, refuses to work.
*Criticizes you, calls you names, shouts at you
*Insults your beliefs, religion, race or class.
Check out their website for more indications of abuse.
If you are in an abusive relationship, there is help available. In Tarrant County contact the SafeHaven Hotline at 1-877-701-SAFE(7233). Or, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
SafeHaven has resources available in Arlington and Fort Worth including shelters, counseling, play therapy and legal assistance. They also offer a batterer’s intervention program for those who realize they need to change or for those who are court ordered to attend.
If you have filed for divorce or if you are in family court for custody litigation, talk to your attorney. The court can issue protective orders to keep your abuser away. This will give the police the ability to arrest the abuser should he or she be harassing or stalking you or should they show up on your property. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can apply for assistance through Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas. There are other legal aid offices throughout the country.
If you find yourself in an abusive situation, you should seek help immediately. Call 911 if you are currently in danger. If you are not in immediate danger, call one of the hotlines above. Make sure you are in a safe location and that you cannot be overheard by your abuser. Make sure you use a telephone or computer that is not being monitored.
Technology today can allow your abuser to monitor every keystroke or record your calls. Photographs you take with your cell phone and upload to the internet may have geo-tagging information imbedded in the photographs allowing those with the software to determine where you were when the picture was taken. For more information on how this works and how to change your phone settings, check out the I Can Stalk U website.
If you are unable to get to another computer, SafeHaven has a large icon at the bottom right of their website which allows you to click on it should your abuser come into the room. It will lock that particular site for an hour to help minimize your risk.
Remember: women are not the only ones who are abused. And, men are not the only abusers. Regardless of your gender, seek help if you need it. There is no shame in reaching out. No matter what your abuser says, you are not responsible for their actions. No one deserves to be abused.
Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest.
~Henry Van Dyke
I first published this article at examiner.com on August 27, 2010.
*This article is not intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney.