October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and advocates across the country are banding together to raise awareness, support abuse survivors, and renew commitments to fighting a hideous public health crisis.
Domestic violence affects millions of people across every racial, ethnic, religious, social, and economic boundary. The issue is commonly associated with physical violence against women and, while true, it includes many other alarming behaviors, such as stalking, rape, intimidation, threats, harassment, and emotional aggression.
Men are also victims of domestic violence, although women suffer in much greater numbers. Children and other loved ones often suffer indirectly but, in all situations, it does not have to be this way.
Advocacy organizations assert that nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. It is critical for outside observers to speak up and encourage victims to seek help. Domestic Violence Awareness Month advocates, and the broader legal community, can assist in providing support for abuse victims and in bringing their abusers to justice.
Be aware that victims of domestic violence need support. They often attempt to hide abuse and remain in abusive relationships. The reasons for staying are complicated, and usually involve psychological trauma and fears of violent retaliation for leaving. Victims may exhibit certain warning signs, such as:
- Being embarrassed about the situation,
- Distance from family and friends,
- Feeling financially dependent on their abuser,
- Substance abuse,
- A belief that they can never get away, or
- Denial, shame and suicidal thoughts.
Domestic violence abusers, on the other hand, typically deny or minimize their pathological behaviors, and blame others for their actions. Red flags can include, but not be limited to, the following:
- Signs of extreme jealousy,
- Forced sexual urges on their domestic partners,
- Control over their victim’s finances,
- Harassment of their victim at work, or
- Sabotaging positive developments for their victims.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, contact help immediately. You have resources available to you. For example, an experienced, local attorney can be a valuable resource, the federal Violence Against Women Act provides ample programs and resources for victims, and the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7/365! Do not wait to get the help you need from our legal team or from any of these resources.