Think to yourself, “Do I know someone who has been raped or physically hurt by someone?” Chances are you do, even if you do not know it. Domestic violence is something no one should have to deal with; however, thousands to millions of people ever year are victims of it. Estimates range from 960,000 to three million female victims per year. Every year, over 500,000 women are stalked by an intimate partner. Nearly one-third of American women have reported abuse in their lifetimes, and there are countless more that never report it at all. These reports are not just from adults, either. One in five female high school students have reported abuse from a dating partner. Domestic violence is not just physical violence. Domestic violence is defined as behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control another. Partners may be married or not married; straight, gay or lesbian; living together, separated or dating. Examples of domestic violence can be something as simple as a putdown, withholding money, keeping the partner away from friends and family to physical harm, sexual assault and stalking. Anyone can be a victim of this.
There are certain signs to help you tell if your partner or someone you know has the potential to be a domestic abuser. Some of these signs include extreme jealousy, spying, makes you afraid to say no to sex, abuse of drugs/alcohol and pressuring you to do the same. The victim will be blamed for the abusers’ behavior and they will not see the victim as a person but as their property. An abuser will use certain tactics to intimidate the victim. Such tactics include dominance, intimidation, threats, humiliation, blame and denial. However, abusers are not easy to spot. They only show that side of themselves when they are alone or with only his or her partner. To outsiders, this person may seem like the kindest person in the world. Even though men can be victims, they are usually the abusers. The abusers are not behaving out of anger or rage. Violence is a deliberate action in attempts to control.
WCU is just one of many participants in an event called V-Day. V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sexual slavery. It promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. At WCU, the Women’s Center puts on a production of The Vagina Monologues. These monologues touch on many subjects that V-Day is all about stopping. For more information on V-Day, you can go to their website at www.vday.org.
If you feel you are in a domestic violence situation or in a situation with the potential to become domestic violence, there are ways to get help. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline twenty-four hours a day at 1-800-799-SAFE. There is also the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. They can be reached at (717) 545-6400 or www.pcadv.org. Locally, there is the Chester County Domestic Violence Center. Their website is www.dvccc.org. Their twenty-four hour hotline is 1-888-711-6270 or (610) 431-1430. There is also the Chester County Crime Victims Center. Their website is www.cvcofcc.org. Their twenty four-hour hotlines are (610) 692-7273 for sexual assaults, and (610) 692-7420 for other crimes. Even if you are an outsider looking in on a situation and are suspicious of domestic violence, you can still help. Simply calling 911 can potentially save someone’s life.
Melanie Peterson is a first-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.