Statistics --More than 2,000 infants and young children die from abuse each year. --Every 4 seconds a child is abused, every 7 minutes a child is killed from abuse, and every 3 minutes a woman is killed by violence. --“Overall, those 17 years of age or under were victims in less than 13% of all domestic violence cases” in 1995, when that age group was estimated to comprise 23% of Florida’s population. --In reported domestic violence cases, almost 73%, the victims were female. --In a study of 1,000 women 15 years of age or older, 36% had experienced emotional abuse while growing up; 43% had experienced some form of abuse as children or adolescents; 39% reported experiencing emotional abuse in a relationship in the past five years. --35% of all women who are or have been in married or common-law relationships have experienced emotional abuse. In comparison, 29% of women have been physically assaulted by their male partners. --Less than 40% of domestic violence cases are reported to the police.
Emotional/Verbal Abuse --Domestic Violence in Florida is defined as “ any assault (threat or attempt to do bodily harm), battery (intentional, unlawful touching or striking) sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking (repeated, willful and malicious pattern of harassing, or following), kidnapping, or false imprisonment or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury, or death of one" family or household" member by another who is, or was, residing in the same single dwelling unit." --Emotional/verbal abuse has been found to be as, if not more, harmful to the victim than physical abuse. The abuser implants incorrect ideas about self-worth, is controlling or manipulative, and this behavior is responsible for long-term problems with the victim’s health, self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.
The Faces of the Victim
--Victims of domestic violence can be anyone; children, men, women, the elderly.
--Most victims of emotional/verbal abuse have no idea their situation can be classified as Domestic Violence, and never try to get help.
Loz Sophie Hunter --She reported her case, of being beaten by her husband, to the police. However, it took the station three weeks to send an officer, who then refused to talk to the witness who found her half dead and also refused to look at her. --Three weeks after this, Loz was informed by a friend that the officer who had visited her was in a pub with her husband, apparently listening to “his side of the story.” --Shortly after, the town began to harass and taunt Loz, from former friends banning her from inns until she “stopped lying about her husband,” to young girls and complete strangers stopping by her workplace to ask her why she is “such a liar.” --The public’s disregard to her attempt to get out of the situation made Loz regret telling the authorities. This kind of reaction from the police is why many victims keep quiet.
Kathy Kett My mother was the second source of my interviews. -- We didn’t get out of our situation until the second semester of my sophomore year. She said she didn't act for so long because she kept thinking the situation would get better. Then a friend gave her a packet of papers defining domestic violence as not just being physical but also emotional (such as controlling finances, etc.) and it made her think, “If an outsider could tell there was trouble, then I should think seriously about options.” This friend then heard one of the phone messages my father left when he was in a drunken stupor, and said “You need to get out of this situation.” --“I realized I had to break the pattern of abuse, we could make it on our own, it wasn't my fault, and no matter what I did, he was not going to change and it was time to stop enabling that behavior.” She also went on to say, “So many times women stay in a situation where it really is domestic violence because they think it's better for the children; but the spouse's actions can affect the self-worth of the wife to make her think she doesn't deserve better, which she does, even if it's a struggle. The relief from the mental abuse is enormous once you have removed yourself from the situation.”
Amanda Martinez --A friend of mine is attending school in North Carolina and is working on a women’s studies major. She had some very intelligent and personal thoughts on this issue, as she was also a victim of emotional abuse. --“I think education of women is essential. Not in a traditional sense as I know women of all races/religions/socioeconomic status fall victim. Education in the sense of making women believe they deserve better. Empowering women to know that they don't ‘deserve it’ and they did nothing to ‘cause it.’ I think this needs to be family education. Men need to know the right way to treat women. There needs to be positive examples for all people available.” --What I agree most with her on is her view on the ignorance of emotional abuse. “I think part of the problem lies in ambiguity of emotional/verbal abuse. I think many women don't even realize this type of abuse until it’s really bad. But you see this type of abuse generationally. Typically if a mom was emotionally/verbally abused the daughter sees this as ‘normal.’ (This is really what I mean when I'm talking about education--breaking the cycle of abuse and letting women know its not ‘normal’).”
Punishment --Anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence, or has reasonable cause to believe they are in imminent danger of becoming a victim, can file for an Injunction for Protection. --An Injunction for Protection may order the abuser to immediately stop the violence or harassment, to leave the shared home, to avoid contact with the victim at home, work or school, to attend batterer's intervention and/or appropriate counseling. --Who’s to say after receiving an Injunction that the abuser will stop?
Action Plans --The most important and effective action plan to eliminate domestic violence is just to educate the public. --Get involved with 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence which takes place from November 25 (International Day Against Violence Against Women) to December 10 (International Human rights Day) --Volunteer at safe houses and shelters --Help out Neighbors, Friends and Families (a Canadian organization) and employing some of their methods in the US --Send letters to Florida State officials asking for the consideration of harsher punishments on offenders --Involvement in the UNIFEM cause. UNIFEM is an anti-violence campaign backed by Nicole Kidman. On their website, anyone interested in helping the cause can print out their flyers and sign up sheets