by Anni Lampert
Domestic Violence Advocate, HELP of Door County
I have been a domestic violence advocate for just about two years and I have learned a lot. Of the many things I’ve learned I believe these struck me most: Domestic violence targets are not always women, but oftentimes they are; being exposed to violence can be as debilitating as being the victim of it and has a long-lasting impact on a person; shame is the number one reason people are reluctant to seek help; alcohol and drugs do not cause domestic violence but they certainly exacerbate it; and poverty does not cause it either, but it can be a strong reason why someone stays.
There are many wonderful, smart and passionate people here in Door County working hard to help those experiencing domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior between people who live or spend lots of time together that comes in many forms including:
- Physical abuse – Demonstrated by shoving, hitting, kicking, punching, strangling or any other physical assault. These are the easiest to identify. Less obvious forms of physical abuse are making threats to do any of the above, displaying weapons, rough horseplay, destroying property or hurting pets.
- Sexual abuse – Also easily identified, this includes being forced into doing something you don’t want to do.
- Emotional and psychological abuse – Displayed by put-downs, name calling, humiliation, being treated like a servant, threatening to commit suicide if you leave, minimizing the abuse or simply denying it ever happened.
- Financial abuse – Most people do not recognize this as a form of abuse, but it is very commonly used to control a partner. Forcing you to be late for or miss work entirely, harassing you while you’re at work, controlling how the money you earn is spent, putting you on a strict allowance, forcing you to put charges on your credit cards and not repaying you.
What can you do? You can be aware of some of the red flags. Crazy jealousy, checking your phone, tracking your movements, constant criticism, explosive anger, accusing you of infidelity, berating exes or minorities, controlling who you speak to or see socially are just a few of the most common ways control is used over a partner.
How can I help? There are a lot of ways you can help a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker or anyone else you think may be in a bad situation. Most important, let them know they are not alone. Understand that coming to terms and deciding what to do next is a process that will likely take time. Understand that shame is a large component of their experience. Seek help from a trained Domestic Violence Advocate at HELP of Door County. 920.743.8785 during business hours, or 800.914.3571 after hours.
We’ll help them plan for their safety, consider their options and help to remove barriers on their journey to healthier life.
This article is brought to you in part by the Door County Coordinated Community Response (CCR) to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Teams and the Door County Elder and Adult-at-Risk Interdisciplinary Team.