Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2011
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Since I’m a woman, this interests me from a woman’s perspective.
Each year in the U.S. 4.8 million women suffer physical assaults and rapes from their partner, and 2.9 million men are victims of physical violence from their partners.
A study indicates that 75 percent of the women who abuse men are retaliating for an attack by their intimate partner.
At least one-third of abusers are thought to have some type of a mental illness.
Domestic violence is also called domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence and intimate partner violence (IPV).
It involves physical, sexual, emotional, economic, verbal or psychological abuse.
Domestic violence happens to everyone of all races, ages, sexual orientation, religion or gender.
Physical abuse is any intentional, unwanted contact with your body by either the abuser or an object within the abuser’s control. Physical abuse does not have to hurt or leave a bruise or a mark.
It can involve: scratching, punching, biting, kicking, throwing something at you, pulling hair, chocking, pushing, using a weapon, slapping or holding you down.
Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual behavior or behavior that interferes with your right to say “no” to sexual advances.
This includes: rape, unwanted kissing or touching, preventing a woman from using birth control, or condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unwanted rough or violent sexual activity, and forcing you or pressuring you to go further than you want (regardless of whether or not you’ve had sex before).
Verbal/Emotional abuse happens when the abuser says or does something to cause you to be afraid, lowers your self-esteem, manipulates or controls your feelings or behavior.
It can take the form of yelling and screaming, keeping you from seeing or talking with friends and family, stalking, intentionally embarrassing you in front of other people, threats of violence to you or a loved one, threats to expose your secrets or take away your children, and making you feel responsible for the abuse.
As a woman with SZ, I believe we are more likely to be victims of abuse, either psychological, physical or emotional. I could imagine a partner trying to exert his control or power because I or another woman has a perceived disability.
This could take the form of economic abuse: a form of abuse where one partner has control over the other partner’s access to economic resources.
A guy might withhold money from a woman who collects a government disability check. The reason a partner prevents a spouse or significant other from acquiring resources is to reduce the victim’s capacity to support him/herself, thus forcing him/her to depend on the abuser financially.
A woman wrote in to SchizophreniaConnection asking a Question because she thought her boyfriend had schizophrenia. Down to every last behavior trait she described, I suspected he was possessive and had all the hallmarks of an abuser.
The boyfriend always checked up on her whereabouts, restricted the friends she could see, and told her what kinds of clothes she could wear. In an effort to please him, she did these things.
It alarms me that women are expected to play nice, not make waves, and accept such treatment. Abuse is about power not sex. It’s about coercing a woman into submission. Though I haven’t been abused, I could understand how a woman might feel she’s done something to upset her partner that caused him to act like he did. So she might do anything to win back his good graces.
Also: a lot of woman want to have a boyfriend or life partner or husband for various reasons, such as thinking they need a man and can’t live without a man, so could feel they must keep their man happy at all times. Some woman would rather have any warm body next to them than risk being alone.
Though women abuse men, men who abuse women cause far more fatalities than the women. Why do abusers kill the women they allegedly love?
When a woman walks away from an abuser, he’s so inflamed that she wouldn’t submit that he kills her so nobody else can have her. If he can’t have his way with her, he doesn’t want anyone else to.
I’ll end on this sobering note.
Christina Bruni wrote about schizophrenia for HealthCentral as a Patient Expert. She is a mental health activist and freelance journalist.