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Domestic Violence Does Not Discriminate

The most often used definition of domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence does not discriminate and occurs in every race, ethnicity, socio-economic background, education, age, gender or sexual orientation. It has no age limit and can occur from teens to the elderly. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) nearly 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men report having experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their life- time. So basically, anyone reading this blog, is someone who has experienced domestic violence or knows someone who has, whether you know about it or not.

Research has shown that domestic violence increases during times of natural disaster and the COVID-19 pandemic is a unlike anything we have experienced. During this time, victims may be unable to find shelter, go to family or friends, or even know what resources are still available to them during their time of need. Victims may be trapped with abusive partners if they lose their jobs or cannot work. In addition, minimal access to paid time off or unemployment insurance, can leave victims dependent on an abusive partner for housing and support.

Frequently, friends and family are the first people that victims turn to for help. Many do not know how to respond so how can you help? Each victim has their own story and cannot be compared to your story or anyone else’s story so first and foremost – LISTEN and BELIEVE them. Do not judge or blame the victim for what is happening. The abuser will often tell a victim that no one will believe them and that it is their fault the abuse is occurring. Do not prove the abuser correct. The question most asked of a victim is why didn’t they just leave? And the answer is because the most dangerous time for the victim is when they leave. The abuser is losing their power and control over the victim and it could have deadly consequences. Local resources are available during this time and help them seek local resources by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or go to their website at www.thehotline.org. The Hotline can put them in touch with a local service provider near them who can help them decide what is their best course of action. Support and encourage them, respect their decisions but most importantly let them know they are not alone and there is help available for them.

Amy Smith, Deputy Director, Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council
Amy Smith has spent her career as a Victim Advocate in Harris County, Texas having worked in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Division, Crime Stoppers of Houston, and now with the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. She served on several local and statewide committees including committees for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, Texas Attorney General’s Crime Victim Services Advisory Council and the State Bar of Texas’ Crime Victim Committee. She has done trainings and presentations at the local, State and National level on all issues related to crime victimization.

Additional resources:

Domestic violence during COVID-19: https://nocovidabuse.org/ 

National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or go to their website at www.thehotline.org.

Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council: https://www.hcdvcc.org/ 

Houston Area Women’s Center: https://hawc.org/



Posted by on 20 Oct 2020