Domestic Violence Awareness: Recognizing Signs and Ways of Supporting Victims

Veronica Salinas

In the world we live in we witness countless incidents of domestic violence every day. Whether we know it or not, things could be going on behind closed doors and in our own communities. This becomes not only an issue for social workers and law enforcement, but for family, friends, and colleagues. According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. In one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.

While resources and shelters mostly serve women, it should be known that men also encounter violent and emotional abuse. The abuse of men is often treated as a joke and not taken as seriously as it should. Media sources widely cover domestic violence aimed at women in heterosexual relationships and males are portrayed as abusive perpetrators. The media, however, fails to acknowledge relationships involving homosexual, bisexual, or transgender men. This prevents men in abusive relationships from knowing about support and resources, especially in a culture that suppresses emotions in men.

The common question about victims is “Why don’t they just leave?” Leaving an abusive relationship can be more complicated than it seems for multiple reasons. Some individuals stay because of fear, love, lack of money, belief that abuse is normal, religion, or disabilities. Many survivors of these acts of violence often experience emotional damage in addition to physical violence, such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. There is also emotional abuse including bullying, gaslighting, and threatening remarks. These types of abuse are commonly not taken seriously.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that 57% of all college students say it is difficult to identify dating abuse. It is important to notice the red flags when dealing with friends, family, or someone you care about. These can include constant worrying about their partner’s anger, excuses for their partner’s behavior, strange marks or bruises, depression, and separation from family and friends’ events.

There are steps one can take to help those in need. First, acknowledge that they are in a scary situation. Be nonjudgmental and non-critical of their decisions. Help them create a safety plan and share with them the hotlines listed below. Encourage them to seek help from domestic violence agencies that provide counseling and other services. The most important thing is that the victim receives the help she or he needs. Offer moral support whenever possible and be supportive of their decisions. After all, it is up to them to make the final decision for what they want in their life.

 Resources and Hotlines

Against Abuse Inc. in Casa Grande: 520-836-0858 (24-hour service)

Against Abuse Inc. in Maricopa: (520) 568-5999 (24-hour service)

Community Alliance Against Family Abuse in Apache Junction: 480-982-0196 (24-hour service)

Never Again Foundation Legal Services in Queen Creek: 602-761-2535

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)