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Domestic Violence

Definition
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior used by adults or adolescents to control their partners. It involves a physical assault or a threat of a physical assault. One or more abusive tactics such as sexual abuse, economic control, destruction of pets and/or property, isolation and emotional abuse almost always accompanies it.

Stats: National Prevalence Data
It is estimated that 20% to 30% of all women and 7.5% of men in the United States have been physically and/or sexually abused by an intimate partner at some point in their adult lives. Heterosexual women are five to eight times more likely than heterosexual men to be victimized by an intimate partner. From 1993 to 1998, victimization by an intimate accounted for 22% of the violence experienced by females and 3% of the violent crime sustained by males. Females are also approximately ten times more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than males.

Resources
Local:
SAFE House Center (Washtenaw Co.)
HAVEN (Oakland Co.)
LACASA (Livingston Co.)
Interim House (Wayne Co.)
Catherine Cobb Safe House (Lenawee Co.)
My Sister’s Place (Eastern Wayne Co.)
First Step (Western Wayne Co.)
Huron Valley Humane Society
734-995-5444
248-334-1204
517-548-1350
313-861-5300
517-265-6776
313-864-7807
734-459-5900
734-662-5585
State:
Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, www.mcadsv.org
National:
National DV Hotline 800-799-SAFE
Family Violence Prevention Fund, www.endabuse.org
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, www.ncadv.org
The Humane Society of the United States, www.hsus.org/firststrike

Myths and Facts

MYTH: Battering is rare.
FACT: Battering is extremely common. According to the Bureau of Justice's report (May, 2000), women experienced approximately 900,000 domestic violence assaults. This is a conservative number based the number of assaults actually reported. The number of women assaulted annually is anywhere from 1.9 (National Institute for Justice, November, 1998) to 3.9 million women (The Commonwealth Fund, July, 1993).

MYTH: Battering is trivial -- a joking matter.
FACT: Battering is serious. Over one third (37%) of women visiting the emergency room are there as a result of a domestic violence assault (Bureau of Justice, October, 1993). Thirty percent of female homicide victims are killed by their partners and in 1998, 75% of all intimate partner homicides in 1998 were women (Bureau of Justice, May, 2000).

MYTH: Battering is about couples getting into a brawl on Saturday night, beating each other up, totally disrupting the neighborhood.
FACT: Battering is one person dominating and controlling the other. In domestic assaults, one partner is beating, intimidating, and terrorizing the other. It's not "mutual combat" or two people in a fistfight.

MYTH: Batterers are crazy.
FACT: An extremely small percentage of batterers are mentally ill. The vast majority seem totally normal, and are often charming, persuasive, and rational. The major difference between them and others is that they use force and intimidation to control their partners. Battering is a behavioral choice.

MYTH: Drinking causes battering.
FACT: Assailants use drinking as one of many excuses for violence, and as a way of putting the responsibility for their violence elsewhere. Although there is a higher correlation between alcohol and other drug use and domestic violence, there is no causal relationship. Stopping the assailants drinking will not end his violence. Both problems must be addressed.

MYTH: Stress causes domestic assault.
FACT: Many people who are under extreme stress do not assault their partners. Assailants who are stressed at work do not attack their coworkers or bosses. Assailants choose to assault those who they can get away with attacking.

MYTH: Men who batter do so because they lose control or because they have poor impulse control.
FACT: Men who batter are usually not violent towards anyone but their wives/partners or their children. They can control themselves sufficiently to pick a safe target. Men often beat women in parts of their bodies where bruises will not show. Sixty percent of battered women are beaten while they are pregnant, often in the stomach. Many assaults will last for hours. Many are planned.

MYTH: The problem is not really woman abuse, it’s spouse abuse. Women are just as violent as men.
FACT: Women are more likely to experience a physical assault at the hands of their partner while men are more likely to be assaulted by a stranger (Bureau of Justice, May, 2000). Women experience more serious levels of assault than men do; they are two-three times more likely to be grabbed, pushed, or shoved and at least seven times more likely to be beaten up, choked, or have their partner try to drown them (National Institute of Justice, November 1998). Women are more likely than men (50% versus 32%) to sustain injuries from a domestic violence assault (Bureau of Justice, May, 2000). Furthermore, the National Institute of Justice (November 1998) found that men committed 93% of the physical assaults and rapes against women.

MYTH: When there is violence in the family, all members of the family are participating in the dynamic, and therefore all must change for the violence to stop.
FACT: Only the perpetrator has the ability to stop the violence. Many women who are battered make numerous attempts to change their behavior in the hope that this will stop the abuse. This does not work. Changes in family members' behavior will not cause or influence the batterer to be non-violent.

MYTH: Domestic violence is usually a one-time event, an isolated incident.
FACT: Battering is a pattern, a reign of force and terror. Once violence begins in a relationship, it gets worse and more frequent over a period of time. Battering is not just one physical attack. it is a number of tactics (intimidation, threats, economic deprivation, psychological and sexual abuse) used repeatedly. Physical violence is one of those tactics. Experts have compared methods used by batterers to those used by terrorists to brainwash hostages.

MYTH: Battered women always stay in violent relationships.
FACT: Many battered women leave their abusers permanently, and despite many obstacles, succeed in building a life free of violence. Almost all battered women leave at least once. The perpetrator dramatically escalates his violence when a women leaves (or tries to), because it is necessary for him to re-assert control and ownership. Battered women are often very active (and far from helpless) on their own behalf. Their efforts often fail because the batterer continues to assault, and institutions refuse to offer protection.

MYTH: If a battered woman really wanted to leave, she could just pack up and go somewhere else.
FACT: Battered women considering leaving their assailants are faced with the real possibility of severe physical damage or even death. Assailants deliberately isolate their partners and deprive them of jobs and opportunities for acquiring education and jobs skills. This, combined with unequal opportunities for women, in general, and the lack of affordable health care, make it excruciatingly difficult for women to leave.

MYTH: Rapists are strangers.
FACT: One out of seven married women is raped by her husband (Russell, Sexual Exploitation). Most battered women are sexually abused by their partner. This abuse includes, but is not limited to: forced sex in front of children, forced sex with animals or in groups, and prostitution.

MYTH: Men who batter are often good fathers and should have joint custody of their children.
FACT: Most men who batter their wives, sexually or physically abuse their children. All children suffer from witnessing their father assault their mother.

How to Report
If you are being assaulted, call 911.
Contact a domestic violence agency in your area to confidentially report a case of domestic violence. You may also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233.) Call toll free, 24 hours a day, anywhere in the U.S.

Laws Governing
According to Michigan law [MCL 750.411]: “person or persons suffering from any wound or other injury inflicted by means of a knife, gun, pistol, or other deadly weapon, or by other means of violence” are to be reported to the local police authorities.

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