GREENE COUNTY — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and as part of national efforts, the Family Violence Prevention Center of Greene County is coordinating a campaign to raise awareness locally.
The FVPC and other local entities recently hung dozens of purple ribbons at The Greene Towne Center in Beavercreek and in downtown Dayton. Each ribbon is tagged with Greene County’s Hotline numbers as well as Montgomery County’s Crisis Hotline.
Across the Miami Valley, families and friends of victims have adopted the purple ribbon to remember and honor their loved ones who have lost their lives at the hands of a person they once loved and trusted, according to the FVPC.
“October may be National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but it is important to remember that domestic violence happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” a release from the center stated. “So be aware of it all the time. There are always activities and programs available year-round.”
In an effort to spread awareness of the issue, the City of Fairborn made a proclamation for the month of October. Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick said domestic violence is a serious and significant problem in society that cannot be fixed without awareness, and making the proclamation was meant to also encourage victims and abusers to seek help.
Identifying domestic violence
Family Violence Prevention Center Executive Director Debbie Matheson said domestic violence is characterized by patterned behavior that displays an imbalance of power in a relationship. It may start with intimidation so that one partner holds all of the control, and takes place in multiple forms, including emotional, physical, sexual, psychological and economical.
“They don’t necessarily start out by saying ‘I’m going to get all the control,’ but if you’re upset about something and you start stomping and slamming stuff, it makes the other person uncomfortable and they start changing their behavior,” she said. “Then the intimidation process starts working out on the batterers behalf, so they continue to behave that way so they get what they want in life rather than thinking about being in an equal partnership where they both care about what each other thinks – it’s very imbalanced.”
Domestic violence characterized emotionally means the victim is verbally assaulted by hurtful words, or their emotions are held against them. Ultimately, emotional domestic violence means the abuser hurts the way the victim thinks.
“Verbal abuse is the process in which folks are name calling, saying hurtful phrases, and then verbal violence where a person may threaten to harm a person’s life or physically harm them,” she said. “Emotional abuse could be a person withholding emotions from a person, or utilizing emotions to make fun of them.”
Psychological domestic violence means the abuser has instilled fear in the victim by various means, including destroying personal property and/or hurting pets. The victim is isolated from outside support systems, including friends and family, by the abuser cutting them off. Abusers may monitor the victim, or prevent them from leaving areas by taking away whatever means would be necessary to do so. Victims may also experience spiritual abuse, in which words of religious faiths are held against them.
“Isolation is another component,” she said. “Isolation can be keeping a person away from family and friends.”
Domestic violence that is considered physical means the victim has endured physical violence in their relationships. Matheson said sexual abuse is the most intimate of crimes because it involves the body. Abusers may use sex to solidify power and control.
“It’s unfortunately very common in abusive relationships,” she said. “However, people don’t know exactly how to talk about it.”
Domestic violence characterized economically means abusers prevent victims from having access to their funds, and/or forcing or preventing victims from working.
“Your needs or wants aren’t such that they could be respectful … That’s the clean picture of the imbalance of power,” she said.
Domestic violence victims leave an average of seven times over an eight year period. Matheson said victims may take a long time to process that they are in a place in need of a change because the unhealthy relationship gets normalized; victims either recognize the situation very early or very late. As a relationship first begins to bloom, individuals can see signs that it may turn sour in the future by looking for equality in a relationship, which means both partners value each other’s opinions and the things they have to say.
They can also look at past behavior, as it indicates future behavior. Matheson said this means listening to how they describe past relationships, and paying attention to how they treat members of their family. Individuals can also note the speed of a relationship; she said moving too fast in the beginning is a red flag.
When victims realize that they are in a domestic violent situation, they should reach out to a neutral party. When a victim reaches out to another individual, they should listen and not partake in judgment, even if the comments are meant to be helpful.
Domestic violence numbers
-Intimate Partner Violence alone affects more than 12 million people each year (The National Domestic Violence Hotline)
-Nearly half of all women and men in the U.S. have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4 percent and 48.8 percent, respectively) (The National Domestic Violence Hotline)
-1 in 4 women (24.3 percent) and 1 in 7 men (13.8 percent) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (The National Domestic Violence Hotline)
-In a single day in 2014, local domestic violence programs in Ohio served 1,839 adults and children in emergency shelters, transitional housing, counseling, legal advocacy or support groups. (The National Network to End Domestic Violence)
For more information about Greene County and Miami Valley events planned to recognize National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, visit the events calendar at violencefreefutures.org or call the Family Violence Prevention Center at 937-376-8526 or 937-426-6535.
Greene County News Report compiled by Nathan Pilling and Whitney Vickers.