What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior used by one person in order to maintain power and control in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence includes actual or threatened physical, sexual, psychological or economic abuse. It occurs between persons who are current or former sexual, intimate partners or who live in the same household, regardless of sexual orientation. Victims and abusers come from all age groups and social classes. Ninety-five percent of victims of domestic violence are women.

Watch the video below to learn about the domestic violence process.


Tactics Of Control

Emotional abuse: putting you down, making you feel bad about yourself, calling you names, making you think you're crazy, playing mind games, humilating you, making you feel guilty.

Using Children: making you feel guilty about the children, using the children to relay messages, using visitation to harass you, threatening to take the children away.

Using Economic Abuse: preventing you from getting or keeping a job, making you ask for money, giving you an allowance, taking your money, hiding or not allowing you to access family income.

Using Isolation: controlling what you do, who you talk to and see, what you need, and where to go, limiting your outside environment, using jealousy to justify actions.

Using Coercion & Threats: making or carrying out threats to do something to hurt you, threatening to leave you, commit suicide, or report you to welfare, making you drop charges, making you do illegal things, using intimidation, smashing things, abusing pets, displaying weapons.


Elder Abuse

Psychological/Emotional Abuse

The willful infliction of mental suffering, by a person in a position of trust with an elder, constitutes psychological/emotional abuses. Examples of such abuse are: verbal assaults, threats, instilling fear, humiliation, intimidation, or isolation of an elder.

Physical Abuse

Any physical pain or injury which is willfully inflicted upon an elder by a person who has care or custody of, or who stands in a position of trust with that elder, constitutes physical abuse. This includes, but is not limited to, direct beatings, sexual assault, unreasonable physical restraint, and prolonged deprivation of food or water.

Abandonment

Abandonment constitutes the desertion or willful forsaking of an elder by any person having the care and custody of that elder, under circumstances in which a reasonable person would continue to provide care of custody.

Financial Abuse

Any theft or misuse of an elder's money or property, by a person in a position of trust with an elder, constitutes financial abuse.

Self Neglect

Failure to provide for self through inattention or dissipation. The identification of this type of case depends on assessing the elder's ability to choose a life-style versus a recent change in the elder's ability to manage.

Neglect

The failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder to provide that degree of care which a reasonable person in a like position would provide constitutes neglect. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Failure to assist in personal hygiene or the provision of clothing for an elder.
  • Failure to provide medical care for the physical and mental health needs of an elder. This does not include instances in which an elder refuses treatment.
  • Failure to protect an elder from health and safety hazards.

If you are elderly and battered:

You are not responsible for the violence. Your spouse or caregiver may tell you it is your fault, but the abuser is the only one responsible for the choice to batter.

You have the right to a safe, healthy relationship and to have your own life, free of violence. You are not alone. There is support available. You can get help.

Protect your safety by:

  • Establishing contacts with friends and family so you have a place to go in an emergency.
  • Developing a safety plan in case you need to leave quickly.
  • Consider obtaining a protective order to protect yourself.


What Is Dating Violence?

You are not responsible for the violence. Your spouse or caregiver may tell you it is your fault, but the abuser is the only one responsible for the choice to batter.

You have the right to a safe, healthy relationship and to have your own life, free of violence. You are not alone. There is support available. You can get help.

Protect your safety by:

  • Establishing contacts with friends and family so you have a place to go in an emergency.
  • Developing a safety plan in case you need to leave quickly.
  • Consider obtaining a protective order to protect yourself.


Myths and Facts

Myth #1: Battering overstates the case. Few women are beaten, although a lot of them may get slapped around a little now and then.

Some women do get slapped or hit and leave the violent situation immediately, but most often battering escalates once it starts. Battering brutally violates a woman's rights over her body and her life. It can involve severe violence or the threat of violence, physical or mental torture, use of weapons, and sexual assault. It is not an isolated act but a pattern of power and control over another. Men who batter usually deny their behavior to themselves and to others. Battering may escalate into murder. In a Kansas study, 85% of domestic homicides involved prior police summons; in 50% of these cases police had been called five times before the murder happened. One third of all homicides in WV during the past six years have been domestic homicides. (WVUCR Report)

Myth #2: Battering is a family matter.

No act which can leave another permanently injured physically or mentally or which can lead to death is a "family matter." Assault is assault; rape is rape; murder is murder regardless of the relationship between people. These are criminal acts. Traditionally women have been encouraged by the family, clergy, and other "professionals" to remain in violent homes in order to preserve the family unit. Recently people have begun to recognize that violence within the family is unjustifiable and inherently destructive.

Myth #3: Battering happens only in "problem" families.

To identify a "problem" family assumes that most families are "normal." This ignores the statistics on women abuse. It also ignores the fact that our society has tolerated, even encouraged, violence against women on a wide-scale basis through media images of women as victims, through the reinforcement of male privilege, and through the refusal to treat violence against women as any other violent crime. Men were legally able to use the "rule of thumb" (no weapon larger than the diameter of the thumb) on their wives until this century. They were also able to exercise marital rape without legal consequences until 1984 in WV. WV acknowledged domestic battering as a crime in the Family Protection Act of 1992, and legislated proarrest in 1994. Battering cuts across all lines: cultural, social, economic, religious, educational, ethnic, etc. Some try to explain away violence by finding "problems" such as drug and alcohol abuse, stress or dysfunctional backgrounds which may be factors but don't cause abuse. The reality is that men who are abusive when under the influence of drugs or alcohol also batter when they are sober.

Myth #4: Battering occurs only in low-income and working class families.

Women of every kind have been battered at the hands of doctors, lawyers, judges, police professionals, clerics, teachers, coal miners, etc. Middle and upper class women often have many options open to them and are less likely to seek assistance from public agencies and shelters. Many middle class women are also afraid of damaging their husband's career or reputation. Others may have the skills and resources that give them access to financial independence, making them less dependant on social agencies, and less likely to be evident in statistics involving battering compiled by service agencies.

Myth #5: Battered women constitute a particular and easily definable group.

The "battered woman" stereotype is that of a passive women between 20 and 35 years old who is unemployed, has two or more children and lives with an alcoholic husband. In WV she is from "up a holler," has had little education and is lacking in most skills. The fact is that women are as likely to be battered as they are to be raped. They may be elderly, teenaged, professionals or laborers. They fit no stereotype. So too there is no single type of relationship. "Wife abuse" distorts the truth. Women are battered by male spouses, male or female lovers, relatives, neighbors; prostitutes are beaten by their pimps or customers who get sick gratification from violence. Teen battering and date rape are as possible as older women being battered by sons of other younger relatives.

Myth #6: She asked for it.

Of all the myths this is the most degrading and insensitive, yet many battered women are accused of deserving or asking for abuse, often from those whom they turn for help: clergy, police, the courts, social workers and relatives. They are asked what they did to provoke the violence and told to change their behavior in order to avoid abuse. They are depicted as wanting to be abused and dominated and therefore the cause of the violence. Those who hold this theory call a woman masochistic when she attempts to escape a violent man and ignore the danger that women face when they attempt to leave an abusive situation.

Myth #7: It can't really be that bad or she would leave.

The assumptions that women can easily leave abusive situations fail to look at reality. Many women are economically dependant and the primary caretaker of the children. Until shelters came into existence in the late 1970's there were few places a woman and her children could go. Even if a woman finds emergency shelter, it is just that: what about the long range implications of leaving for herself and her children? If she does get a job, she will probably earn less than the man she left. Daycare is expensive if available at all. Finally, she must face the loneliness of leaving old connections with family and friends who encourage her to stay for the sake of the children.

Myth #8: There is a pattern to violence.

Many professionals assert that there is a pattern to violence: boys from a violent home grow up to be batterers; girls, to be victims. While there is truth to the assertion that environments and learning are major factors, this theory is deterministic. Many men from violent homes do not batter. Many women form nonviolent homes are battered. Another facet of this theory asserts that all women who are battered in turn batter their children, although no evidence exists to support this. What is important in the analysis of violence is to separate the cause of violence - a pattern of power and control - from factors that can be involved in abuse.

Myth #9: Battering is a problem of the younger generation.

Older persons are battered, too. Two-thirds of elder domestic abuse and neglect victims are women. More than half of all reported elder abuse is caused by family members-children (33%), spouses (15%), and other relatives (13%).

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