Here's the thing: The resource I wanted to highlight this week isn't local. It's national, but I can't stress enough how important that you have it in your phones right now. Seriously, get out your phone right now, and add this contact.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Phone (24hrs/7days a week/365 days a year): 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-799-SAFE.
Online Chat (7am-2pm CST/7 days a week/365 days a year): thehotline.org
Services: Non-judgmental crisis counseling, abuse information, and resources for domestic violence victims.
Why add this to your phone contacts right now? Statistically, you already know someone who has experienced a violent relationship or it's impact right now:
- Almost half of men and women have experienced psychological aggression in an intimate partner relationship.
- More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner.
- Approximately "24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner."
- 81% of women and 35% of men "who experienced rape, stalking, or physical violence by an intimate partner reported significant short- or long-term impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and injury."
So, what can this number do for you? Eventually, you'll likely come across someone struggling with victimization. Hearing their stories, letting them know that you believe them, honoring their needs and wishes, and gently offering them resources can be pretty big helps in letting them acknowledge, get individualized assistance, and heal from what's often a culturally taboo subject. Is this resource the end all be all? No. Is it possible that a victim would refuse your information? Possibly. Will they know that you think they matter? Probably.
I want to re-emphasize the importance of listening and believing victims, while keeping your own notions of what a victim should do at the door. Domestic violence, at its core, is a manipulation of power and control upon the victim by someone they love(d). As such, it comes with a whole host of mental gymnastics to even wrap your mind around why someone who says they love you would harm you. It's tough to come to grips with that reality when it happens to you, and there is a huge history (and current forces) of legal coercion, oppression, and cultural shaming that comes with it. That's not even counting the very human fear and the imminent safety issues that are often the victim's day-to-day realities. Remember, after all, that a No-Contact Order really is just a piece of paper regarding someone who has already shown historical disregard for safety, human rights, and boundaries. Frankly, until it happens, it's hard to say what one victim would do, given their specific situation's intersection of a multitude of factors: their family structure, values, culture, religion, legal implications, finances, emotional reserves, etc. It's a shame that, despite all these factors, our society still has tendencies to put the responsibility and scrutiny for an abusive relationship on the victim, rather than place the onus on the perpetrator to not be aggressive in the first place. Until we get there, we have these options for safety, your listening ears, and your forethought to keep this contact.
Brodsky, A. (2014, February 27). Punishing survivors won't stop sexual violence. Feministing. Retrieved from: http://feministing.com/2014/02/27/punishing-survivors-wont-stop-sexual-violence/
Keeling, J. & van Wormer, K. (2012). Social worker interventions in situations of domestic violence: What we can learn from survivors' personal narratives? British Journal of Social Work, 42, 1354-1370.
National Domestic Violence Hotline. (2014, December 19). #GingerbreadForGood: Spotlight on hotline advocates. Retrieved from: http://www.thehotline.org/2014/12/gingerbreadforgood-spotlight-on-hotline-advocates/
Ibid. (n.d.). Statistics. Retrieved from: http://www.thehotline.org/resources/statistics/
Rose, D., Trevillion, K., Woodall, A., Morgan, C., Feder, G., & Howard, L. (2011). Barriers and facilitators of disclosures of domestic violence by mental health service users: Qualitative study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 198, 189-194.
Valor-Segura, I., Expósito, F., & Moya, M. (2011). Victim blaming and exoneration of the perpetrator in domestic violence: The role of beliefs in a just world and ambivalent sexism. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 14(1), 195-206.