Thursday, April 23, 2009

Intimate Partner Violence

For those of you who would like to continue the discussion of last week on IPV please post your thoughts and comments. Also, for those of you in attendance at the session on relationship safety in the Women's Center last evening please tell us about it!

Dr. Amy R-R


  1. During the meeting we discussed the six main types of domestic violence; verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, financial/economical, and racial/cultural. We went into great detail as for what actions are considered to be abuse for each category. What I personally never realized was that abuse is basically having control over someone, or the disagreement upon any unbalanced power(s). While discussing all of the different ways that a partner can be abusive, it was surprising to hear so many different methods of intimate partner violence including spitting, yelling, blocking an exit to keep the other person from leaving, controlling the flow of money, etc. And what was most frightening was that these less-thought-of methods of abuse are not thought of anything serious in society so abusive partners are free to continue as they please. What did other people think about any of this? Or anything else that interested them on anything else discussed about in the meeting?

    - Heather Lombardi

  2. Hi everybody,

    I went to the session on relationship safety in the Women's center last week. Professionals from Casa Myrna Vasquez came to the Women's Center to speak about domestic violence. The Casa Myrna Vasquez is a provider of shelters and it provides supportive services to abused women and their children. Casa Myrna offers residential programs including an emergency shelter, a transitional living program, adolescent transitional living program, family services and housing search, which all provide support to abused women and their children. Casa Myrna also provides a hotline, named Safe Link which is a 24/7 multilingual domestic violence hotline. Trained advocates are available to provide crisis intervention, supportive listening, safety planning, referrals to services, and direct connections to domestic violence shelters in MA. (This information is from a brochure that the speaker handed out to us during the seminar. It is the brochure providing information about Casa Myrna Vasquez).

    The speaker also taught us about warning signs of typical cycles or patterns to look for that are signs of abuse. The most important fact I learned that I had been confused about regarding domestic violence is that the abuse and actions are habitual repeated actions that gradually get worse over time. For example, the abuser will tend to start with doing more innocent crimes such as grabbing their partner's arm roughly and eventually get more abusive as time goes on. I also learned that abusive relationships usually start as healthy, trusting relationships that develop over time into abusive relationships. The speaker also showed us a typical behavior pattern of an abuser. The cycle starts as normal healthy behavior and then turns into tension between the couple. Then this leads up to a crisis where there is usually physical abuse. Then there is the Hearts and Flowers period where the abuser tries to win back the love of their victim and apologizes. If the victim forgives them this cycle tends to continue. The cycle continues but the crisis part of the cycle seems to happen more frequently as the violence escalates as time goes on and the relationship becomes more abusive. There will probably be more frequently used abusive behaviors used by the perpetrator as time goes on.

    The speaker also gave us general facts about Domestic Violence. Some of the facts she gave us were- one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. (National Violence against Women Survey, 2000). In addition, "the majority (73 percent) of family violence victims are female. Females were 84 percent of spousal abuse victims and 86 percent of abuse victims at the hands of a boyfriend." (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005). A few other facts that stood out to me were, “In the United States, the cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $ 5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health services." (Centers for Disease Control &Prevention, 2003). Lastly, "there are 16,800 homicides and $2.2 million (medically treated) injuries due to intimate partner violence annually in the U.S. which costs $37 billion." (Centers for Disease Control& Prevention, 2007). I found it to be scary and sad that so many people in the U.S. each year are victims of Domestic Violence. Clearly, this issue needs to be paid attention so that in the future the number of deaths and victims of Domestic Abuse will lessen as programs such as Casa Myrna Vazques work to prevent and support victims of Domestic Violence in the U.S. This session had a big impact on my and I hope to volunteer or perhaps even work at a program similar to Casa Myrna in the future because I would like to help prevent Domestic Violence from continuing in the U.S.
    I hope that this was helpful in giving you insight into this epidemic social problem that so many people in the U.S. are struggling to deal with today. I hope that with increased awareness of the harm caused by domestic violence the Domestic Violence will become less common or even better although it is wishful thinking eradicated from our society.


  3. Amanda from Casa Myrna Vasquez did a great job of explaining the different types of Domestic Violence and the cycle it takes. As Heather said one of the things I really learned from her was the variety of different forms abuse can take. She explained that what made it abuse was the intent behind it to control someone. Whatever means the person uses, as long as they are trying to control another person, it is abuse. I also really liked the way she approached helping a friend in this situation. The average abused woman goes back over 7 times before she leaves her abuser for good. She said if you know of someone in this situation, be patient. I think that is so important. It is easy to give up, get frustrated, and think you have done all you can. It is important to still stand by her so that they have someone when they do want to leave because they might be so isolated from everyone else due to the abuse. Also she said it was important to not put down the person's abuser and not get outwardly angry at them. The woman probably still loves their abuser and will push you away if you put them down. The best way to help a friend in this situation is to listen and be consistently there.
    It is also important to note that abuse goes on between same-sex couples at the same rate as it does between heterosexual couples. This is important because we tend to stereotype what domestic violence looks like and who it affects.
    It is great that we are progressing in awareness and activism in this area, but there is still much to do. One of the major changes that needs to be made is better screening in hospital settings. Obviously the ER and doctor's office are places that battered women will be coming to if physically abused and it is a great time to screen for it and offer her options for services. As we talked about at the discussion some hospitals are stepping up and doing the screenings and some are not doing any. We need a more unified way of offering support to these women who come into the hospital.
    -Kayla Harding

  4. I went to the session as well. It was interesting to hear about the different types of abuse, as others described. We also had a discussion about the difficulty of leaving an abusive relationship. People often blame the victim, and say that if the abuse is so bad, the person (usually a woman) should leave. This isn't always possible. One of the obstacles is that the abuser usually isolates the victim, so when they want to leave the relationship, they have less emotional support and resources. There is also the fear that they will be abused worse if they leave, which often does occur. They victims often have a negative self-image because of abuse, so they have less confidence in their own abilities. Women may also have a lower income than their partner, so they may not be financially secure if they leave the relationship. They may also come to believe they deserve the abuse. I think people need to be less judgmental when they look at women in abusive relationships, and consider the many obstacles they face.
    -Mia BloomBecker

  5. While attending the relationship safety session in the Women's Center I learned many things. For one I learned that many women or men will leave an abusive relationship but then quickly go back for finical support and other factors such as the feeling of someone loving them. I also really liked how she emphasized that not only are women the ones being abused, but men are too. Also she made it very clear that this happens with same sex relationships. Basically she made sure to get across the point that its not only men abusing women. I also found it very interesting that people would call the abuse hotline for advice/ to talk about what was happening, but not necessarily go and try to get help. I had always thought that if the person made the step of calling the hotline that they would do something else to try and get out of the relationship. During the session she said how MA has a very high percentage of abusive relationships, but also noted that we have the most help for people who are abused, hotlines, shelters etc. This may be why MA is said to have such a high percentage (because more people come forward knowing they can get help). Some safety tips she gave us at the end of the session (that she told us she will tell people on the hotline who do not want to leave the house) such as to make sure you are in a room that has more than one exit, not to be in the kitchen because there are many weapons in there and to not be in the bathroom because it is so small.

    Tracy Potter