October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, bringing the scourge of household violence to the forefront of society’s conversations. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an average of 20 people per minute are battered, equating more than 10 million men and women affected by abuse each year.
Unfortunately, too often domestic violence is overlooked or explained away: “That doesn’t happen in my neighborhood.” “I shouldn’t get involved, it’s a private matter.” “I know him – I don’t think he could hurt anyone.” “If it’s so bad, why doesn’t she just leave?”
Statements like these often cloud the realities of intimate partner abuse, which is too common in some homes. The Salvation Army Family and Community Services work with abusers and communities to re-frame domestic violence as a societal concern that requires community support to change beliefs and behaviors that validate or ignore partner abuse.
Although most domestic violence arrests are made based on signs of physical abuse, emotional and verbal abuse are often present as well. An abusive partner may use intimidation, isolation from friends and family, and threats of future violence to control his/her partner. This type of abuse is much more difficult to identify.
Frequently, victims feel trapped and unable to leave their abusive relationships. They may financially depend on their partners or feel religious or cultural pressures to “keep the family together.” Most of the time, there are strong emotional ties to the abuser. A victim who is not yet ready to leave the relationship will often choose not report the abuse in order to maintain a sense of stability in the home.
Unfortunately, some societal/cultural attitudes – and laws – haven’t caught up with the understanding that domestic violence is unacceptable. Frequently, it is up to individuals to reach out to others, and advocate to change these attitudes.
Men who are struggling with being an abusive partner can turn to The Salvation Army Partner Abuse Intervention Program. As a Protocol Certified program in Illinois, men are most often referred to the Program by a court order, but some may register on their on behalf as they recognize themselves as abusers.
The primary goal of The Salvation Army Partner Abuse Intervention Program is to prevent future violence, with a secondary goal of promoting the safety of women and children. This is accomplished with a multi-faceted approach. A key step in the process is challenging the long-standing beliefs that supported the history of abusive and controlling behavior among program participants. Another crucial aspect is teaching appropriate and constructive conflict resolution techniques, providing former abusers with alternatives to violence. To register for this program, please call 773.960.3292.
If you are a victim of any form of domestic violence – or know someone who is – please call the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline at 877.863.6338 for help. Bilingual Spanish/English speaking staff are available to take your call. The Language Line also offers assistance in 170 other languages including Polish, Spanish, Urdu, Ebu, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Croatian, Russian, Romanian, Vietnamese, Creole, Portuguese, and many others.