Stigma of Domestic Violence

On Earth Day, as I was coming home for the evening, I tripped on a box in my entry way. It was a very large, tall box and very much in my way. I fell forward onto the box and as my arms went out and up to protect my head and face, my elbow landed on the box resulting in a very pretty black eye with a gash in my cheek from my grandmother’s ring. This happened very quickly, and I didn’t think much of it…so I had a black eye with a hilarious story. Well- that soon changed as I went to work 2 days later and my eye had progressed. I have never received so many stares and jeers, so many laced questions, where my answers were perceived as lies. It made me pissed off that people were thinking, and some saying, that I was a victim of domestic violence. The thing is that they were trying to figure out the truth of the matter in a totally negative approach. I was offended. I think part of the reason I am so outright disgusted with being asked if I feel safe at home is because of my childhood. I grew up in a household with its very own intimate terror.  I am thankfully no where near that situation and hope never to be again. So there are two sides to this stigma. 1- People don’t recognize the signs of domestic violence and if they do, they don’t know how to act or help, or 2-People mistake unintentional injuries for domestic violence and are insulting.  Even though I was insulted, I’d rather have people questioning and treading the waters of speaking out against domestic violence.

I found some press releases about the stigma of domestic violence. They showed some interesting facts:

In interviews with nearly 25,000 women at 15 sites in 10 countries, researchers from the World Health Organization found that rates of partner violence ranged from a low of 15 percent in Yokohama, Japan, to a high of 71 percent in rural Ethiopia.

At six of the sites, at least 50 percent of women said that they had been subjected to moderate or severe violence in the home at some point. At 13 sites, more than a quarter of all women said they had suffered such violence in the past year.

 NEW YORK, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ — A surprising survey on domestic violence released today reveals an information gap that may very well prevent Americans from taking action when they witness domestic violence.  Approximately two-thirds of Americans say it is hard to determine whether someone has been a victim of domestic abuse (64%) and want more information about what to do when confronted with domestic violence (65%). Poll results clearly indicate that education about this topic is not only needed but can help save lives since 7 in 10 Americans (69%) will take some action when they are able to recognize domestic violence.
      When asked to define what actions comprise domestic violence and abuse, 2 in 5 Americans (40%) did not even mention hitting, slapping and punching. Over 90% of Americans failed to define repeated emotional, verbal, sexual abuse and controlling behaviors as patterns of domestic violence and abuse.

It is clear that every person needs to be educated about domestic violence and also know the ways to get help and intervene. It is important to remember however that women are not the only victims. Elderly abuse is on the rise, and there is also child abuse and men abuse. Everyone is a possible victim but everyone is also a potential advocate to Stop Domestic Violence and its stigma.