Breaking the silence: Women caught in a domestic violence epidemic

You are not alone - Let's break the cycle

Abuse doesn't always have to be violent. Women, children and men alike are part of an domestic violence epidemic and some don't even know it.

Most susceptible women are younger, college-aged women. And why?

Maybe, a drunken night out led to an argument. Maybe a 'soft' slap and then an aggressive arm pull. The next morning is groggy and "I'm sorry's" are exchanged. Things seem to go back to normal and the woman tells her friends, "it just happened once."

Until it's the second, third and fourth time. Some are lucky to end it and walk away unharmed. Most are not.

One recent, believed-to-be, domestic violence case occurred early Wednesday morning in West Chester.

Brian Dunn is believed to have committed suicide after shooting and killing his ex-wife, according to police. The couple was in the middle of a divorce.

In August, Alisha Waters-Mathis was gunned down and shot five times by her estranged husband in an attempted murder-suicide plot. Mathis was left paralyzed and on a ventilator, but has been improving with each day.

Domestic violence is a willful pattern of controlling behaviors that one person uses over another, typically between intimate partners in which one is trying to gain power over the other. In a lot of cases it's physical, but not always.

Although this crime can be gender-neutral, the majority of victims are women. In fact, 85 percent of victims are women, according to the Domestic Violence Resource Center.

If one is able to walk away after the bruises fade and the broken bones mend, most think the problem is over.

But it’s far from over. 

Types Of Abuse

In a majority of abuse cases, the result of injury shows with mental health issues. Depression, anxiety, paranoia, PTSD and substance abuse. Most of the time, these issues don't surface for years. It doesn't take a broken bone for any of these effects to show.

The Department of Justice defines abuse as:

Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, and hair pulling.

Sexual Abuse: Coercing or making an attempt to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.

Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual's sense of self-worth is abusive. This may include diminishing or belittling one's abilities, name-calling, or damaging one's relationship with others by bad-mouthing them.

Economic Abuse: Attempting to make someone financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one's access to money.

Psychological Abuse: Elements of psychological abuse include causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self or others, destruction of pets and property by breaking items, and by secluding that person from friends or family.

What's Really Happening Across The Nation?

One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime. The Cleveland Clinic notes that this 25 percent have been physically or sexually abused. 

CDC states that 1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime.

Information provided by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati says that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury for women aged 15 to 44.

More than 60 percent of domestic violence incidents occur at home, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The CDC says 93 percent of parents and 78 percent of adult children reported being victim of minor incidents like intimate-partner violence.

A majority of abuse cases result in mental health issues result in depression, anxiety, paranoia, PTSD, and substance abuse. In some cases, these issues don't surface for years, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

ABC News reports that 44 percent who identified themselves as survivors of domestic abuse were 20 percent more likely to experience a chronic health condition compared with women who said they'd never been abused. 81 percent of women who experience domestic violence suffer from a chronic health condition after the incident.

National Institute of Justice says that 1 in 6 women in the US has experienced stalking in her lifetime, with college women having the highest stalking rates. If one can get away from an abusive relationship, it’s not uncommon for the abuser to try to stay close with his or her victim.

Stalkers now have the option to cyber-stalk their victims due to advances in technology. Applications to record key strokes and entry into personal emails are a form of proxy stalking. Other stalking includes physical surveillance, unwanted and repetitive phone calls and property invasion.

'Intimate Partner Homicides' is a terrifying result of an abusive relationship. 

In a study, half of the women who were killed, and three-fourths of the women who killed their partner had experienced violence within a 30-day timeframe from the homicide, according to Dr. Block of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.

In a study conducted by John Hopkins University, a report shows that alcohol and drug use prior to the killing or attempted killing of women has a direct and strong relationship to the abuse itself. Higher levels of alcohol or drug use yields more violent acts.

In the U.S., one-third of women are killed by an intimate partner, according to NOW.

9 On Your Side's Carol Williams attended the YWCA's "Circle of Women" luncheon on Thursday. The YWCA's Teresa Singleton says the most dangerous time for a domestic violence survivor is when she's preparing to leave.

"The abuser feels a loss of control over her [when she leaves] and homicide is the ultimate form of control," she says. "That's why protective shelters are so important, because if he can't find her, he can't kill her."

What About The Children?

Ninety percent of parents in domestic violence situations think the children don’t know what’s going on. In fact, when questioned, 90 percent of children know what’s happening.

Fewer than 10 percent of people think first of the children who live in the home where the violence is present. Meaning, 90 percent of parents don’t factor in the kids.

Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates of anywhere between 30 and 60 percent, according to SafeHorizon.

Females who are exposed to their parents’ domestic violence as adolescents are significantly more likely to become victims of dating violence than daughters of nonviolent parents, according to the American Journal of Health and Behavior. 

15.5 million U.S. children are in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year, and 7 million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred, according to the Journal of Family Psychology. 

"Research shows witnessing violence is a bigger predictor of future violent behavior than being a victim," said Stephanie Wyler, former Juvenile Court Judge in Clermont County. 

"That's why we need preventative measures to protect children from not only being victims, but from them witnessing violence between people near and dear to them," she said.

Understanding Charges and Laws

Assault: This is verbal abuse, there is no physical contact necessary. It can be defined as an intentional act that causes fear in another person to the point that they feel they will be physically harmed.

Battery: Physical abuse. Assault and Battery typically go hand-in-hand. Many modern statutes no longer distinguish them as two separate crimes.

Stalking: Under OH-Revised Code 2903, there are laws defined as stalking by menacing, menacing, and aggravated menacing. Essentially, the law states that no person by engaging in a pattern of conduct shall knowingly cause another person to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to the other person or cause mental distress to the other person. To read more, click here.

Aggravated Assault: This is a felony. It is an attempt to cause serious bodily injury knowingly and recklessly to indifference that human life.

Rape: Unlawful sexual intercourse or intrusion.

Murder: Felony. Premeditated killing of another human being.

Homicide: Felony. Unlawful killing, whether intentional and premeditated, or not.

In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This act recognizes that domestic violence is a national crime. 

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) provides for federal funding to help victims of domestic violence and their dependents (such as children).

States hold different statues for what is deemed under the domestic violence umbrella. 

For a list of federal laws relating to domestic violence, click here.

Get Help - You Are Not Alone

If you are in fear for your life, you need to contact your area police department immediately or call 911.

If you are in an abusive relationship, speaking up is the first step. Get yourself to a safe area and seek help.

There are many hotlines to call, using an anonymous name. These hotlines will provide ways to deal with your particular situation and if nothing else, are always willing to listen.

If you or someone you know needs somewhere safe to go, there are many Cincinnati area shelters and help centers:

YWCA Violence Shelter & Transitional Housing: 513-872-9259
YWCA Protective Shelter for Battered Persons: 513-863-4762
YWCA Clermont, Brown and Adams Counties: 513-753-4764
Women Helping Women: 513-381-5610
Women's Crisis Center in Ky.: 859-491-3335
Kentucky Domestic Violence Association: 502-209-KDVA
Fair Haven Rescue Mission, Ky.: 606-491-1027

Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court: 513-946-9000
Butler County Domestic Relations Court: 513-887-3100
Clermont County Domestic Relations Court: 513-732-7327
Warren County Domestic Relations Court: 513-925-1344

You can file for Civil Protection Orders with the court. You can apply for an order by obtaining the paperwork at the Domestic Relations Docket Office at the downtown Cincinnati office located at 800 Broadway, Room 346, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also call the police and file a report and they can direct you to the correct office to file for a "restraining" order.

Archdiocese of Cincinnati can provide help and resources: 513-421-3131
Rape and Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE
Crime Victims Hotline: 886-689-4357
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE

To read more on domestic violence, here are some resources:
RAINN

Department of Justice Journal Issue 20.

Break The Cycle

SafeHorizon

Department of Justice Office on Violence against Woman

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