Domestic violence is a serious public health problem and has received increased attention in the media over the last several months. The violence isn’t just a physical act but a violation; it ranges from subtle manipulation, intimidation, and threats to beatings and murder. Domestic violence is physical violence, sexual violence, threats of violence, and psychological abuse by a current or former partner.
Domestic violence is not a gender related issue; it affects men as well as women. Female victims are often threatened, intimidated, or physically abused by the perpetrator to prevent them from reporting the violence. Males are often seen as stronger than females and able to defend themselves, but once he does he instantly becomes viewed as the abuser and the female the victim.
For men and women alike barriers to reporting the abuse include feelings of shame, isolation, and fear of retaliation from the abusive partner. The military community has their own barriers, including fear of losing the respect and trust of their team members and even loss of their job. An abused military spouse may fear that reporting the violence could hurt her husband’s career leading to an increase in the frequency or severity of the violence.
According to the Center for Disease Control’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, an average of 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States, which adds up to around 10 million women and men a year. 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men in the US experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner.
With advanced technology, perpetrators of domestic violence are now using social media, internet and GPS to track, frighten, and monitor their victims. For a majority of people, social media allows for healthy communication, sharing, and connections, but for victims of domestic violence social media is just another outlet for stalking, manipulation, misinformation, subversion, and intimidation.
Survivors of domestic violence and victims who are still experiencing the violence often suffer long-term negative consequences including physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health impacts which can lead to hospitalization, disability, or even death. Physical health problems linked to victims of domestic violence are injuries, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and gastrointestinal disorders. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal thoughts and behavior, substance and alcohol abuse are long-term mental health issues many survivors of domestic violence battle for years following violent relationships. Sexual violence in relationships can lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unintended pregnancy and complications from pregnancy, unsafe abortions or gynecological disorders.
As a community we need to create a culture that does not tolerate domestic violence, we need to hold batterers responsible for their actions, and we need to provide support for the victims. The best thing we can do as a community to prevent violence from happening in the first place is to utilize the services and programs available at WSMR. These services are here to help reduce the stress and hardships that are a part of military life. Please contact the Family Advocacy Program at Army Community Service at 575-678-6767 for assistance.