During Women’s History Month and all other months, WTLC’s focus is ending the cycle of violence and exploitation.
In this line of work, we often get the question, “Is domestic violence really a thing?”
Women are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence, which impacts generations to come. Domestic violence (also referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV), dating abuse, or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship (NDVH, 2022). 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.
This includes a range of behaviors (e.g. slapping, shoving, pushing) and in some cases might not be immediately perceived as “domestic violence,” further enhancing the reason why someone stays in the abusive cycle. Minority communities also tend to experience DV more frequently and more severely than their white counterparts, specifically American Indian and Alaskan Native Women and Black Women. Due to systemic racism, racist policies, and racist societal structures, both Black women and Black men experience intimate partner violence at a disproportionately high rate. Our society is ingrained with systems that intentionally deny Black people access to economic opportunities, the ability to build intergenerational wealth, healthcare, education (NCADV, 2020).
Additionally, many women who have experienced DV in their adulthood have either witnessed or experienced violence themselves in childhood. Witnessing or being exposed to violence in childhood is one of the risk factors at play in experiencing violence in adulthood. Children who witness incidents of domestic violence (a form of childhood trauma) are at greater risk of serious adult health problems including obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression, substance abuse, tobacco use, and unintended pregnancies than peers who did not witness domestic violence. This teaches women a skewed version of what healthy relationships look like, and unfortunately gets passed down from generation to generation. It causes economic, emotional, spiritual, and physical consequences due to the varying type of abuse at play.
One common misconception is that domestic violence is only present when there is physical abuse; however, this is untrue. Emotional, psychological, financial, cyber, and sexual abuse are equally as harmful. Domestic violence can result in lasting mental and emotional health issues that could impact future relationships and ongoing economic issues. Intervention is key to addressing the entire family system including linkage to basic needs, housing, counseling, legal, medical, and occupational support.
Luckily, WTLC assists in linking survivors of DV to all of the services listed and can be reached 24/7 at the bilingual helpline 877-531-5522. Services are available for all genders, and can also accommodate pets.