Child abuse is a growing public health issue. The few cases of abuse or neglect which appear in the press are only a small part of this pressing public health issue. Many child abuse cases are not reported to police or social service agencies. What we do know about the prevalence of child abuse is as follows:
• 1,740 children died in the United States in 2008 from abuse and neglect.1
• 772,000 children were found to be victims of maltreatment by child protective services in 2008.1
Recognizing the alarming rate at which children are abused and neglected, the need for innovative programs to prevent child abuse, and the importance of assisting families affected by maltreatment, the month of April was designated at National Child Abuse Prevention Month in 1983 by Presidential Proclamation. Since then, child abuse and neglect awareness activities have been promoted across the country.
With the goal of strengthening families, child abuse and neglect awareness activities are promoted across the country during April. In April, communities should seize the opportunity to help keep children safe, provide the requisite support families need to stay together, and raise children and youth to be happy, secure, and stable adults. The Child Welfare League (CWLA) gives guidance on activities that each of us can take to help prevent child abuse and neglect. Here is CWLA’s list of ten actions that we can take to help prevent child abuse.
Ten Things You Can Do to Help Prevent Child Abuse
Volunteer your time. After-school activities, parent education classes, mentoring programs, and respite care are some of the many ways to keep children safe from harm. Be a voice in support of these efforts in your community.
Discipline your children thoughtfully. Remember that discipline is a way to teach your child. Use privileges to encourage good behavior and time-outs to help your child regain control. Both words and actions can inflict deep, lasting wounds.
Support prevention programs. Know what child abuse is, and what the signs are. Physical and sexual abuse clearly constitute maltreatment, but so does neglect, or the failure of parents or other caregivers to provide a child with needed food, clothing, and care. Children can also be emotionally abused when they are rejected, berated, or continuously isolated.
Report abuse. If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse, or if a child tells you about abuse, make a report to your state’s child protective services department or local police.
Invest in kids. Encourage leaders in the community to be supportive of children and families. Ask employers to provide family-friendly work environments. Ask your local and national lawmakers to support legislation to better protect our children and to improve their lives.
Write, visit, fax, phone, or e-mail your elected officials.
Participate in ceremonies to memorialize children. Read the names of children lost to violence in your state, hold a candlelight vigil, or host an event at your state capital to remember those children who were lost to violence.
Raise public awareness.”—CWLA
To report an instance of child abuse or get help, contact the National Child Abuse Hotline. For further information on child maltreatment, you can visit any of the following websites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:www.cdc.gov/injury.
Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb
Child Welfare Information Gateway:www.childwelfare.gov
FRIENDS National Resource Center: http://www.friendsnrc.org
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child: http://www.developingchild.net
1. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families. Child Maltreatment 2008 [online]. Washington (DC): Government Printing Office; 2010. [cited 2010 Apr 8]. Available from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov.
Sources: Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, Child Welfare League of America, Center for Disease Control & Prevention, National Child Abuse Hotline, Child Welfare Information Gateway, FRIENDS National Resource Center, and the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Teen Dating Violence
Like domestic violence, teen dating violence is a pattern of controlling, and abusive behaviors of one person over another within a romantic relationship. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse. It can occur in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. It knows no boundaries and crosses race, socio-economic status, culture, and religion. can happen to anyone.
Annually, 1 out of 11 adolescents reports being a victim of physical dating abuse (CDC 2006). Many of these cases of teen dating violence could have been prevented by helping adolescents to develop skills for healthy relationships with others (Foshee et al. 2005).
Like adults, teenagers can choose better relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand that they have choices, and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Parents play an integral role in the development of their children either directly or indirectly. In recognition of the important roles played by parents in the lives of their children, we honor and celebrate mothers in the month of May on Mother’s Day and fathers in the month of June on Father’s Day. This year, Mother’s Day was held on Sunday, May 12th, 2013, and Father’s Day is Sunday, June 16th, 2013.
Each year, for the past thirty (30) years, in the United States, on the third Sunday in the month of June, we honor and celebrate the contributions that fathers make in the lives of their children. Dr. Sigmund Freud is reported to have said that, he could not think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.
For a growing number of American children, they have not known the love, protection, and guidance of a father. Social science research has shown the devastating impact of fatherless homes on the lives children. Data indicates that children in fatherless homes experience more major challenges in life than those who grow up with a father at home. The following statistics on children in fatherless homes are alarming and should give any father pause when thinking about his children.
“Incarceration Rates. “Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families…those boys whose fathers were absent from the household had double the odds of being incarcerated — even when other factors such as race, income, parent education and urban residence were held constant.” (Cynthia Harper of the University of Pennsylvania and Sara S. McLanahan of Princeton University cited in “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration.” Journal of Research on Adolescence 14 (September 2004): 369-397.)
Suicide. 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of the Census).
Behavioral Disorders. 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (United States Center for Disease Control).
High School Dropouts. 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.).
Educational Attainment. Kids living in single-parent homes or in step-families report lower educational expectations on the part of their parents, less parental monitoring of school work, and less overall social supervision than children from intact families. (N.M. Astore and S. McLanahan, American Sociological Review, No. 56 (1991).
Juvenile Detention Rates. 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988).
Confused Identities. Boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely than those in father-present homes to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender identity.(P.L. Adams, J.R. Milner, and N.A. Schrepf, Fatherless Children, New York, Wiley Press, 1984).
Aggression. In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed “greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households.” (N. Vaden-Kierman, N. Ialongo, J. Pearson, and S. Kellam, “Household Family Structure and Children’s Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary School Children,” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 23, no. 5 (1995).
Achievement. Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes. (One-Parent Families and Their Children, Charles F. Kettering Foundation, 1990).
Delinquency. Only 13 percent of juvenile delinquents come from families in which the biological mother and father are married to each other. By contrast, 33 percent have parents who are either divorced or separated and 44 percent have parents who were never married. (Wisconsin Dept. of Health and Social Services, April 1994).
Criminal Activity. The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families. Source: A. Anne Hill, June O’Neill, Underclass Behaviors in the United States, CUNY, Baruch College. 1993”[i].
If you want to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and youth in homes where the fathers are absent, you can support the very necessary work of nonprofit organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and/or Boys and Girls Club. Big Brothers Big Sisters has a 100 year history of providing quality youth mentoring services that have proven to have a measurable impact in the lives of: the youth served, their families and their community.
Boys and Girls Club’s mission is to “…enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”. Every day, these agencies are changing the perspectives of children and enabling them to see the world around them in a more positive light. With that newfound point of view, they can see their potential more clearly and dream bigger about their future. Get involved in a child’s life.
Sources: Boys and Girls Club’s website. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ website. Indystar.com. “Father’s absence takes heavy toll on children”, Editorial, June 18, 2011. “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America”. Wayne Parker, About.com Guide.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art.
[i] “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America”. Wayne Parker, About.com
The month of March has long been recognized as Women’s History Month. Domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger for women and girls. To highlight that fact here are some alarming facts shared on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website:
“Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner. In 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder. Less than one-fifth of victims reporting an injury from intimate partner violence sought medical treatment following the injury. Intimate partner violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year.”
With that said, not all homes provide a safe haven. For far too many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Many incidents of domestic violence go unreported. What data that is available indicates as shared previously that domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of countless women and girls. Yet, domestic violence is a subject that we, as a society, are reluctant to talk about. As a result, victims often suffer and sometimes die in silence. It is important to know: what constitutes domestic violence, how you can help, and available resources.
What constitutes abuse? Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including but not limited to physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that people use to gain power and control over their intimate partners. Research indicates that domestic violence is common and affects people of all cultures, religions, ages, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds and income levels. Domestic violence is not a private family matter as was once thought but rather a crime against society. Abuse takes many forms.
Abuse comes in several forms and, while some define abuse as a physical attack, it can also be emotional, financial, or sexual. Physically abusive behavior can escalate quickly and have lethal consequences. Emotional abuse is considered a psychological or mental attack on another, including name-calling, destructive criticism, harassment, isolation, intimidation, or humiliation. These emotionally destructive behaviors by the abusive partner can be detrimental to the victim’s mental well-being both in the short-term as well as long-term without counseling. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy the victim’s self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make the victim feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and the first step to breaking free is recognizing that the relationship is abusive.
Are there other forms of domestic violence? Other forms of domestic violence include but are not limited to financial and sexual abuse. Financial abuse, also known as economic abuse, results from one partner’s attempts to gain and maintain control over their partner’s finances. Taking many forms, financial abuse includes disallowing a partner from obtaining a job, purposely hurting a partner’s credit, limiting access to funds, and demanding that a partner ask for money for every expense. Sexual abuse results from one partner forcing his or her will on the other, often causing physical and psychological harm in the process. When a partner is afraid to say no, he or she suffers from abuse. Once the victim acknowledges the reality of the abusive situation, then she or he can get the much-needed help.
Is this an exhaustive list of the forms of domestic violence? Although lengthy, the aforementioned categories of domestic violence do not comprise all forms abuse. Stalking is another form of emotional abuse. With the rise of technology, many abuse their partner by stalking them with the aid of cell phones, computers, and the Internet, or using technology to monitor a partner’s activity. Research indicates that this type of abuse is especially common among teenagers and young adults. The immigration status of the victim can also afford the abusive partner an opportunity to control the victim. When the abusive partner, often a spouse, holds control over the victim’s immigration papers, threatens to call immigration authorities, or refuses to let his or her partner to learn English, among other things this behavior constitutes abuse. More than ever before, society must guard against domestic abuse in all forms, paying special attention to non-traditional forms of abusive behavior which all too often go overlooked.
How can you help? There are several ways that you can help a person in an abusive relationship. First, you must be a patient and non-judgmental listener. Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. Secondly, you can encourage him or her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Assist your friend in locating a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling and/or shelter. If the person elects to go to the police, court or a lawyer, you can offer to accompany them for moral support. It is important to be mindful that you cannot rescue the person being abused. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about being hurt only the abused person can decide when to take the requisite steps to secure a life free from the violence and turmoil which occurs in an abusive relationship.
The pervasive problem of domestic violence takes everyone to make it stop. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, keep in mind that expressing your concern for their health and well-being will let the person know that you care and may even save her or his life.
Sources:NCADV website and PCADV website
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The Senate worked in a bipartisan manner to pass the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2013, S. 47. The Senate bill incorporates input gathered from more than 2,000 victim advocacy groups, service providers and criminal justice professionals. The bill allocates critical resources needed to hold perpetrators accountable as well as expand services and protections to more victims from marginalized communities–including LGBTQ, Native and immigrant.
It is important to thank the seventy-eight (78) Senators who voted favorably and for their courage of conviction to stand with victims. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) exhibited unwavering leadership in shepherding this bill through the Senate.
As the bill advances in Congress, it is my hope that the House of Representatives will follow the Senate’s model example of bipartisanship and work expeditiously to put forth the best policy benefiting all victims.
Sources: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
Not all homes provide a safe haven. For the victims of domestic violence, home is a place where hearts and lives are broken. Family violence spares no one. The partner who is battered and the children who watch, or who themselves may be abused, all suffer. Their physical and emotional pain is long-lasting.
Domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of women. For far too many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Yet, domestic violence is a subject that we, as a society, are reluctant to talk about. As a result, victims often suffer and die in silence. And despite the intense media attention recently focused on a few high profile courtroom cases, the public remains largely uninformed about the nature and warning signs of domestic violence.
Until recently, domestic violence was viewed as a “private family matter” as opposed to a crime against society with potentially lethal consequences. Increasingly our public institutions—law enforcement, the courts, policy makers, health care providers, and social service providers—are recognizing incidents of domestic violence as violent criminal acts with devastating consequences for individual victims, their children, and the community, and are seeking effective methods for dealing with this pressing public health issue. Community support and involvement are integral parts of domestic violence prevention and intervention.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has provided funding for much needed supportive programs for victims of domestic violence. The National Task to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women in its recent action alert reminds us that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is before the Senate. This week’s action alert requests that we call our Senators to urge them to: 1) pass VAWA; and 2) to vote against any weakening or non-germane amendments.
GOAL: Pass VAWA in the Senate this week!
ACTION ITEM: CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY!!!
S. 47, a strong, bipartisan bill – with 61 sponsors – that would reauthorize the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Michael Crapo (R-ID) is headed to the Senate floor for debate TODAY and a vote on final passage could occur as early as THURSDAY! This bill is very similar to the bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Leahy and Crapo last Congress and would improve VAWA programs and strengthen protections for all victims of violence.
With 61 sponsors, victory is in sight. In anticipation of the impending vote, we need you to take action TODAY by contacting your Senators and ask them to vote YES on S. 47. We also need to remind Senators If you do not see your Senator on the list of co-sponsors below, call the Capitol switchboard at 202) 224-3121 and ask the operator to connect you to your Senators. If you do not know who your Senators are, you can look them up here (http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm). When you’re connected to their offices, ask to speak to the staff person who handles VAWA.
If your Senator is already cosponsoring, tell or leave a message for the staff person:
1) I am a constituent from (city and state) and my name is _________.
2) I want to thank Senator____ for co-sponsoring S. 47, a strong, bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and voting YES on the bill. Please urge Senator _____________ to follow Senator Leahy’s lead and vote NO on any weakening or non-germane amendments.
If your Senator is NOT already cosponsoring, tell or leave a message for the staff person:
1) I am a constituent from (city and state) and my name is _________.
2) I urge Senator____ to co-sponsor S. 47, a strong, bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and to vote YES on the bill and vote NO on any weakening or non-germane amendments.
3) Thank you and I look forward to hearing that the Senator is a co-sponsor and/or voted for VAWA without harmful amendments.
Thus far, the bill has the following sponsors: Senators Ayotte, Kelly (R-NH), Baldwin, Tammy (D-WI), Baucus, Max (D-MT) , Begich, Mark (D-AK), Bennet, Michael (D-CO), Blumenthal, Richard (D-CT), Boxer, Barbara (D-CA), Brown, Sherrod (D-OH), Cantwell, Maria (D-WA), Cardin, Benjamin (D-MD), Carper, Thomas (D-DE) Casey, Robert (D-PA), Collins, Susan (R-ME), Coons, Chris (D-DE), Crapo, Mike (R-ID), Donnelly, Joe (D-IN) Durbin, Richard (D-IL), Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA), Franken, Al (D-MN), Gillibrand, Kirsten (D-NY), Hagan, Kay (D-NC), Harkin, Tom (D-IA), Heinrich, Martin (D-NM), Heitkamp, Heidi (D-ND), Heller, Dean (R-NV), Hirono, Mazie (D-HI), Johnson, Tim (D – SD), Kaine, Tim (D-VA) King, Angus (I-ME), Kirk, Mark (R-IL), Klobuchar, Amy (D-MN), Landrieu, Mary (D-LA), Lautenberg, Frank R. (D-NJ) Leahy, Patrick (D-VT), Levin, Carl (D-MI) McCaskill, Claire (D-MO), Manchin, Joe (D-WV) ,Menendez, Robert (D-NJ), Merkley, Jeff (D-OR), Mikulski, Barbara (D-MD), Moran, Jerry (R-KS), Murkowski, Lisa (R-AK), Murphy, Christopher (D-CT) Murray, Patty (D-WA), Nelson, Bill (D-FL) Pryor, Mark (D-AR), Reed, Jack (D-RI), Reid, Harry (D-NV), Rockefeller, John D (D-WV), Sanders, Bernard (I-VT), Schatz, Brian (D-HI) Schumer, Charles (D-NY), Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH), Stabenow, Debbie (D-MI), Tester, Jon (D-MT), Udall, Mark (D-CO), Udall, Tom (D-NM), Warner, Mark (D-VA), Warren, Elizabeth (D-MA), Whitehouse, Sheldon (D-RI), Wyden, Ron (D-OR).
Please thank these Senators for their early support of the Violence Against Women Act.
Potential Sponsors of S. 47
Fischer, Deb – (R – NE) The only woman Senator, out of 20, who has yet to sponsor VAWA
Alexander, Lamar – (R – TN)
Coats, Daniel – (R – IN)
Corker, Bob (R-TN)
Hoeven, John – (R – ND)
McCain, John – (R – AZ)
Portman, Rob – (R – OH)
Vitter, David – (R – LA)
Cornyn, John – (R – TX)
Enzi, Michael B. – (R – WY)
Graham, Lindsey – (R – SC)
Grassley, Chuck – (R – IA)
Hatch, Orrin G. – (R – UT)
Rubio, Marco – (R – FL)
Toomey, Patrick J. – (R – PA)
–Voted for VAWA 2012
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women – more than car accidents, muggings, and rape combined. And studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic abuse annually. Since its enactment in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has saved lives and saved money.
Urge your senators to cosponsor VAWA and move this bill forward. With an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action, we can end violence against women. In 2013, each of us should commit ourselves to halting violence within our homes, our communities, and our nation—toward that goal, contact your federal elected officials about co-sponsoring the Violence Against Women Act.
Source(s): National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women Action Alert; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV); American Association of University Women (AAUW). CDC.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art
This year, Valentine’s Day falls on Thursday, February 14th. Valentine’s Day marks a day for couples and sweethearts to celebrate their love and treasure their time together. As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, I thought it important to discuss the characteristics of healthy relationships.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), intimate partner violence results in an estimated 1,200 deaths and 2 million injuries among women and nearly 600,000 injuries among men annually. Twenty-three percent of women and eleven percent of men aged 18 years or more have a lifetime history of intimate partner violence victimization. Prevention is key in domestic violence. With that understanding, this post discusses the characteristics of healthy relationship.
Characteristics of Healthy Romantic Relationships:
- Partnership: There is shared responsibility.
- Economic Equality: Freedom exists related to issues of work, school, and money.
- Emotional Honesty: Both parties feel safe to share fears and insecurities.
- Sexual Respect: Accepts that “no” means “no”.
- Physical Safety: Respects partner’s space and discusses issues without violence.
- Supportive/Trusting: Listens and understands, values partner’s opinion, and sensitive to other’s needs.
Characteristics of Abusive Relationships:
- Domination: Abuser decides. Servant-Master relationship.
- Economic Control: Withholds money.
- Emotional Manipulation: Uses jealousy, passion, and stress to justify actions.
- Sexual Abuse: Treats partners as sex object.
- Physical Abuse: Hit, choke, kick, punch, pull hair, twist arms, trip, bite.
- Controlling: Isolates partner from friends.
- Intimidating: Charming in public but menacing in private.
The abusive behaviors listed above are not comprehensive. The information should simply serve as a brief overview and to encourage the reader to seek more information. For further information on the topic of domestic violence, there are many websites that can provide comprehensive information on this topic including but not limited to: http://www.thehotline.org; and http://www.ncadv.org.
Source(s): Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sanctuary for Families. National Domestic Violence Hotline. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Teen Dating Violence (DV) Prevention and Awareness Month is a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen and 20-something relationships and promote programs that prevent it during the month of February.
Like domestic violence, teen dating violence is a pattern of controlling, and abusive behaviors of one person over another within a romantic relationship. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse. It can occur in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. It knows no boundaries and crosses race, socio-economic status, culture, and religion. Violence can happen to anyone.
Annually, 1 out of 11 adolescents reports being a victim of physical dating abuse (CDC 2006). Many of these cases of teen dating violence could have been prevented by helping adolescents to develop skills for healthy relationships with others (Foshee et al. 2005). Like adults, teenagers can choose better relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand that they have choices, and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Access to information is integral to breaking the cycle of violence. Toward that goal, I would like to direct your attention to very help informational resources related to domestic violence intervention, prevention, and community outreach. For further information on teen dating violence, here are several websites you can visit: http://www.thesafespace.org; and http://www.breakthecycle.org.
What barriers does an abused person face when attempting to end a violent relationship? As a long-time advocate for victims of domestic violence, Nichelle Mitchem recognizes that the complexity of the legal system and the absence of legal assistance cause some victims to stay in an abusive relationship. By understanding of the importance of the access to legal information, assistance, and often representation for battered women, Mitchem has sought to enhance the accessibility to legal services for victims of domestic violence for much of her career.
Whether serving as an administrator of legal service programs for battered women or as the executive director of a domestic violence agency, Nichelle has been asked to present on: the dynamics of domestic violence, available supportive services, and the legal aspects of domestic violence. “Like shelter and counseling, access to legal information and assistance serve to empower abused persons,” Mitchem says. When discussing domestic violence with various audiences, participants often pose the question, “Why doesn’t the victim just leave?” In response, Mitchem says, “Most victims want to leave and many try. Even under the best of circumstances, leaving a relationship is difficult. Violent relationships are complex; and victims in these relationships are faced with many barriers to leaving. These barriers include the lack of knowledge of: civil and criminal protections afforded to them under the law as well as available legal resources. Additionally, the abusive partner occasionally uses intimidation and/or violence to stop the victim from severing the relationship. As a result, victims often fear retaliation for ending the relationship.”
Mitchem asserts that, “Victims often stay, because they fear that the abuser will find her and kill/harm her, the children, other relatives, or friends. They stay with the hopes that the violence will end, because they are financially dependent on the abuser, lack alternative housing, or are trying to keep the family together. They stay hoping change is possible. It takes strength and determination to survive violence. However, as time goes on, surviving an abusive relationship becomes more difficult.” This fact is particularly true for economically disadvantaged battered women and abused women with disabilities. Mitchem has sought to enhance access to legal services for this particularly vulnerable population by understanding of the importance of legal information, assistance, and representation for many battered women, particularly those who are indigent, homeless, and/or disabled. During her tenure as executive director, domestic violence agencies have launched and/or expanded on legal service programs that assist clients in negotiating legal and other challenges that might arise as they seek to eliminate domestic violence from their lives. These very necessary programs assist survivors of domestic violence to build long-term safety and security for themselves and their children.”
For information about available legal services and other programs for victims of domestic violence in your community, please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website at http://www.thehotline.org.
Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art