Issue 90 • Week of October 8, 2023
If you are over the age of 18 and a victim of domestic violence or are concerned about an adult who may be suffering, please call 800-799-SAFE (7233), TTY 800-787-3224, text START to 88788, or chat online with advocates.
If you are a victim under 18 or suspect child abuse, call or text 800-422-4453 or chat online.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and everyone should be aware of both the extent of the problem and our trend as a nation.
Ten million adults are victims of domestic violence in the US every year, yet only 10% seek help. Nine million live with the pain and in constant fear or denial. Then, it got 8% worse during the pandemic. So, now, almost 10 million Americans are stuck in a situation where they feel it is not safe to leave. That's more people than live in Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, and Philadelphia – combined.
Others who have never experienced abuse can have trouble empathizing with victims who stay. Perhaps psychologists need to do better at communicating their research; one of the most popular models to understand how those with power and control manipulate partners only evolved in the 1980s. It still has yet to enter mainstream awareness and may not be the most effective at treating offenders. But we now know that survivors may leave an abusive partner up to 12 times on average before they are finally able to escape the cycle of violence for good.
Meanwhile, children have far fewer options and sadly over half of a million kids are abused in the US each year. These adverse childhood experiences often arise amid adverse community environments (pair of ACEs) while Constitutional questions, the rights of children, and the negative effects of family separation complicate potential solutions.
Domestic violence and child abuse have been problems for millennia just as slavery was legal until only a century and a half ago. Pockets of illegal human trafficking still exist, but no one expects any society to revert to that barbaric practice. So there is no reason to think that similar advances cannot be made in our homes if we as a people make such a commitment.
How can our society escape this cycle of abuse?
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