October is my favorite month. It encapsulates my birthday and Halloween which, in my opinion, are some of the best times of year.
It is also the time of year where put a micro-focus on a topic that should be discussed year-round.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month occurs in October.
Although both males and females are victims in this debacle, women are the predominant victims.
Every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten. Each day more than three women are murdered by their husband or partners. (Domesticviolencestatistics.org).
One in five teenage girls have been in a relationship in which a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if she broke up with him.
Men who witness domestic violence as children are twice as likely to abuse their own partners as adults.
Domestic violence is a family issue – not just a womens’ issue – we need to not only teach our daughters what healthy relationships look like, we need to raise our sons to understand consent, nonviolent communication and respect.
Peace Begins at Home
I started volunteering for a domestic violence program when I was very young and they had a slogan on t-shirts that said, “World Peace Begins at Home.” Violence in the home is probably the most vital health and wellness topic we can discuss.
Some ways to help prevent family violence is to teach our family members about healthy relationships.
Modeling what healthy relationships look like to our kids. Finding mentors for young boys and girls who are at higher risk for troubling relationships is another proven intervention.
Getting to root causes, and increasing social and economic supports, are vital to ending the cycle of violence.
In the years I spent in my career as an advocate for victims of violence, I have seen the carnage personified in many families.
Domestic Violence is...
The National Domestic Violence Hotline identifies intimate partner violence as exerting power and control over another person which can include isolation, coercion, sexual violence, verbal abuse and demeaning another.
Financial control, pressure to use drugs or alcohol and destroying belongings are also indicators of domestic violence.
If you know or suspect someone is in a violent relationship, the best thing you can do is to let them know you support them.
Pressuring someone to leave a violent relationship can have negative effects on the victim and there are many, many reasons someone may stay in a violent relationship. Offering resources and ensuring children in the home are safe can be helpful.
Know that if you are in an unhealthy relationship, you are not alone. There is no shame in asking for help, or in finding yourself in a situation from which you should remove yourself.
A personal story
Domestic violence happens in all walks of life and to many people. Years ago I worked as the Executive Director of a Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault program. Ond one of the women I worked with, our legal advocate, was murdered by her live-in boyfriend about a year or two after I left the agency. There were no signs anyone at work noticed, no outcries from her and no physical evidence leading up to her murder at the time I knew her.
She knew everything about domestic violence advocacy and prevention and still found herself in the worst of all scenarios. It was heartbreaking.
In the News
The news lately is focused on Gabby Petito the murder of this young, beautiful life. Her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, is suspected of ending her life; and, there was evidence of prior violence in the relationship.
It appears, from the information publicly available, there was little evidence before the 911 call shortly before she disappeared but there are several red flags in the bodycam footage showing Laundrie calling her “crazy” and remaining calm and blames her, while she appears to be very upset.
Talk with a safe person
This issue is not about one person, it is about all the victims and survivors of violence. It is about support for those in need. People need to know it is okay to talk about red flags.
People need a safe person to talk with.
Even if someone you love hurts you, it is important to talk about that with someone you feel safe with.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
Women in Need (local)
Liz Jones is the owner of Liz Jones Wellness LLC, in Hunt and Rockwall counties, and is building Jones Wellness Ranch north of Greenville. She can be reached at Liz@LizJones.co or through her website at LizJones.co.