Domestic violence affects millions of people from all races, genders, cultures and financial statuses, and many Americans know someone who is or has been a victim. It’s essential to prevent and educate ourselves about the effects of intimate partner harm year-round. However, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which we observe every October, is 31 days during which we can take specific steps toward breaking the cycle of household abuse and encourage survivors to speak up.
What Is Domestic Violence?
While you might picture the “typical” domestic abuser as someone who takes pleasure in causing physical harm and injuries to their spouse or partner, this abuse can take many forms, including psychological, verbal, financial and sexual. Abusers might steal their partners’ money, stalk them or even insult them so often they might start to believe they’ve done something to deserve it.
In 1994, the landmark Violence Against Women Act passed, introducing new provisions to hold offenders accountable and provide outreach for victims of domestic abuse. Since then, the overall domestic violence rate has dropped dramatically, and more states and cities have enacted legislation to address issues such as workplace harassment, stalking and employment discrimination. Despite this progress, there is always more we can do to advocate for victims of abuse and improve public understanding of this concern.
COVID-19 Has Increased Incidents of Domestic Violence Worldwide
Among the myriad societal flaws the novel coronavirus pandemic has brought to light, COVID-19 has caused a disturbing increase in the global rate of domestic abuse cases. As people have been staying home more often to slow the spread of the virus, tensions are rising in households around the world, leading to more arguments and emotional distress.
When so many circumstances seem to be out of control, people may start taking out their frustrations on those around them. To make matters worse, new travel and quarantine restrictions intended to help keep viral transmission in check have made it more challenging for victims to escape their abusers.
The Undeniable Connection Between Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, approximately one in four women and one in 10 men has experienced violent behavior from an intimate partner, and substance abuse has likely played a role in many of these occurrences. Because intoxicants can bring out the worst in people’s behavior, they might say or do things under the influence of drugs or alcohol that they wouldn’t dream of when they’re sober, including harming their partner or spouse.
Victims of domestic violence might also start drinking or using drugs as a temporary escape from the pain of the trauma and low self-esteem they’re experiencing as a result of their unhealthy relationship, only to find themselves enmeshed in the chains of addiction. When this happens, it can create even more desperation, despair and pain.
What to Do If You Are Experiencing Intimate Abuse
Everyone deserves to have a healthy relationship that’s free from fear and abuse. If domestic violence is impacting your life, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE as soon as possible. Their advocates can advise you on how to address problems safely and effectively.
When you’re ready to learn more about beginning addiction treatment in a caring, women’s-only environment, Canyon Crossing is here for you. Let us know how we can help you today.