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Domestic Abuse: The Facts and Figures
Domestic abuse is a serious problem we don’t talk about often enough. Abuse can take various forms. It can be physical, emotional, or financial. The common thread through each of them, is how the abuser uses their power to hold the abused hostage, in their own homes. While survivors span through all gender identities, females suffer from intimate partner violence at higher rates than males-- an estimate 85 percent of domestic abuse survivors are women.
Other shocking statistics regarding domestic abuse include:
● Over 38 million women experience physical intimate partner violence, in their lifetimes -- that is one out of every four women.
● Every day in the United States, three women are murdered by a current or former male partner.
● Black women experience domestic violence at rate 35 percent higher than white women.
● Women who experience domestic abuse are eight times more likely to be murdered by their partner, if there is a firearm in the household.
● In 98 percent of domestic violence cases, financial abuse also occurs.
● A transgender person of color is 2.6 times more likely to experience intimate partner violence than a non-LGBT person.
● A woman is 70 times more likely to be murdered by her abusive partner in the weeks after leaving.
● Those living with disabilities are more likely to experience violence and abuse than people without disabilities.
In addition to the typical “red flags” of abuse, women who live with a disability may experience other warning signs that relate to their issue. On top of other means of financial abuse, the abuser may steal or withhold a Social Security Disability check. They can also use psychological manipulation or gaslighting to invalidate the disability and its symptoms. They may not let the victim take their medication, use their mobility device or attend a doctor’s appointment. Any use of the disability as an excuse to shame or humiliate the victim, is another form of abuse, as well. If the victim has a service animal, the abuser can threaten to harm or even actually harm the animal.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, shelters and offices that provide resources for abuse victims, must be able to admit and provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. If you are in the United States and need help with a possibly abusive situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a TTY to call 1-800-787-3224 if using TTY or 1-855-812-1001 for video phone. You can also find information at Barrier Free Living.
Home Security and Safety Modifications
If you are able to leave an abusive situation and secure a new place to live, security is paramount. Today’s home security systems are far more advanced, and homeowners can now choose from a wide range of security options, such as around-the-clock monitoring and video surveillance. Many of the newest security measures are also pretty budget-friendly. Consider the following to reclaim your sense of safety in your home.
● Nowadays, there are security camera systems available at less than $100. Recruit a friend, family member, or simply a person in your community that you can trust to help install the system. Even the most affordable models, come with mobile apps so you can have eyes on security breaches even from the comfort of your own bed.
● Portable alarms can easily be set up and are equipped with wireless panic buttons that you can wear around home. When the panic button is pressed, the system instantly triggers an audio message that plays over local law enforcement two-way radios, announcing the location and the incident. The process is much quicker than making a call with your phone, providing the quickest possible notification to law enforcement of a potential issue. Another advantage is that it is portable so can be taken with you, if you move or used in a hotel etc. Some alarm companies offer programs and federal and local grants, may be available to supplement the cost for victims of domestic violence.
● Put code-controlled mechanical locks on your doors that lock the door behind you so you don’t have to worry about checking it. Be sure to pick a sequence of numbers that has no personal or emotional significance that your ex-partner could guess. You can also assign different codes to others such as an home health aide; you can delete the code, at any time, so that you don’t need to change your locks if they no longer work for you.
● Install window stops that prevent them from opening more than 4 inches. This way nobody can get through an alternate entrance.
● Place motion-detecting lights outside, in both your back and front yard. Make sure the bulbs are bright enough that you will notice from inside, if a disturbance triggers them.
● Consider adopting a dog. When it comes to home protection, there are two types to consider: guard dogs and watchdogs. Guard dog breeds protect their owner and guard against unwanted people or animals. Watchdog breeds are smaller and less protective, but they still alert their owner in case of an intruder.
Domestic abuse affects millions of people and those who do not get help, often die at the hands of their partner. If you live with a disability, an abuser may use it as a way to access power and control. Anybody experiencing abuse of any kind, should contact help as soon as possible, by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
About the Author:
Nora Hood considers domestic violence to be a form of domestic terrorism and aims to raise awareness about the issue through her efforts including ThreeDaily.org