Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault affect all types of people regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, sexual identity, or religion. The effects are damaging, enduring, and far-reached. The costs of domestic violence are estimated to exceed $8 billion each year. Costs include $5.8 billion for medical and mental health care and $2.5 billion in lost productivity.
Domestic Violence is defined as a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors used by one person in order to gain and maintain power and control of another.
Consent is defined as intelligent, knowing, and voluntary and does not include coerced submission. “Consent” shall not be deemed or construed to mean the failure by the alleged victim to offer physical resistance to the offender.
Domestic violence and sexual assault are shown by many different behaviors. These behaviors might include:
- Cutting up clothes
- Slapping with an open hand
- Punching in the stomach when pregnant
- Throwing a person across the room
- Threatening with weapons
- Threatening to harm children/pets
- Isolation from friends/family
- Obsessive jealousy
- Mind games
- Destroying personal property
- Forced Pregnancy
- Forced prostitution
- Pressured sex
- Unwanted touching/roughness
- Forced drugs
An important thing to remember is not to blame the victim. Oftentimes in abusive relationships, the abuser will be very sweet and kind to their victim to make them believe that they love them in order to keep the victim from leaving. Many people in abusive relationships often want the abuse to end but not the relationship.
Other common barriers that keep victims from leaving their abuser include:
- Little consequence or punishment for batterers
- Inconsistent response and support from local services and agencies
- Consistent willingness to believe battery and violence may have a justified excuse. i.e. Victim's behavior seen as provactive, substance abuse, etc.
- The abuser having control over family finances
- The victim has been told if he/she leaves the abuser will find them
- The abuser may threaten to commit suicide or kill victim/children
- The abuser may physically take away car keys or other physical means of escaping
- Abusers will promise to change their ways if the victim stays
- Religion may forbid divorce or preaches submissive behavior
- The victim may fear homelessness, loneliness, and/or financial stress
- Lack of support from family or friends