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October is Domestic (Interpersonal) Violence Awareness Month

In 2014 Governor Markell signed a Proclamation, declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the State of Delaware.

Interpersonal violence can happen anywhere and at any time to anyone. The victim can be a woman or a man. The victim can be a child or an older adult. The victim can be a same-sex partner. Interpersonal violence recognizes no social, ethnic or economic boundaries. The one thing that they all have in common is that the victim always is intimately involved with the abuser, and the abuser is always controlling and manipulating his or her victim. More than 60 percent of domestic violence happens at home. And, most domestic violence is never talked about or ever reported.

Last year in Delaware, 23,985 domestic violence incidents were reported to law enforcement, and Family Court issued 1,546 orders for Protection From Abuse (PFA).
Many people have the impression that domestic violence refers only to the physical violence against women beaten, raped and murdered. Men also are physically abused. Nationwide, women do experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes by their intimate partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults. Each year, about 2,000 people are murdered by their domestic partners in the United States.

Abuse is more than physical

As serious as physical violence is, it represents one of the ways that women and men are abused by someone very close to them. Domestic violence includes psychological abuse, sexual abuse and economic abuse. Abusers control their victims by threatening them, manipulating and denigrating them, blaming them, withholding money or access to checking accounts and credit cards, and by isolating them from friends and family.

Abuse starts gradually and usually without the victim knowing that it is happening. Abusers gain the love and trust of a victim early in the relationship. They seem devoted, and that can be flattering to anyone wishing to have a close relationship. When things appear to be going wrong, victims often feel guilty and embarrassed, and don’t want to share their experiences and feelings with others. Once the abuser turns threatening or violent, the victims become too fearful to share any information with others. They fear their lives are in danger, and usually are. These are the forms of domestic violence of which most outsiders are unaware.

Are you in an abusive relationship?

Here are some examples of the types of behavior that an abuser will exhibit. Does the person:

  • Constantly monitor where you go?
  • Prevent or discourage you from seeing your friends?
  • Control how you spend money?
  • Decide things for you that you should decide, such as what you should wear?
  • Humiliate you in front of friends?
  • Forces you to have sex?
  • Stop you from using birth control or control the use of birth control?
  • Blame you for his or her violent outbursts?

How can we help a victim?

As a support person to a victim of interpersonal violence, other than a child, it is important to remember that the individual is at the greatest risk of death at the time he or she leaves the relationship. You should never coerce someone to leave a violent relationship. Rather, you need to support the person and allow him or her to decide when the time is right. Let the person know privately that you are aware of the situation and want to help. Don’t blame the victim. You can provide information such as hotline numbers, shelters and counseling. Many people who are in domestic violence situations have not been able to make their own decisions within the relationship, so don’t find yourself making decisions for them.

Discuss a safety plan such as:

  • Pack a bag and leave it at a friend’s house
  • Make sure the victim has a copy of important documents
  • Avoid arguments in the kitchen where there are knives and other potential weapons
  • Include children in the plan to relocate
  • Include pets in a relocation plan, if needed

Resources:

Here are some important resources of people ready to help.

  • 24-hour domestic violence hotline (Kent & Sussex) 302-422-8058
  • Contact Lifeline (rape crisis) 1-800-262-9800
  • Child Abuse hotline 1-800-292-9582
  • State Victim Center 1-800 VICTIM 1
  • Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 1-800-656-HOPE
  • o https://www.rainn.org/
  • Counseling resources:
  • Turning Point at People’s Place 302-424-2420
  • Crossroads of Georgetown 302-855-0558

If you feel you are in danger please call 911.

Cheri Will, RN, is the Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Coordinator at Beebe Healthcare. She is available to speak to groups and provide resources to victims. Please feel free to contact her at (302) 645-3311.