Educate Yourself about Domestic Violence

The best way to be an ally to someone in need is to understand more about domestic abuse

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month—a good time to educate yourself about the dangers of this public health epidemic.

Just how prevalent is the problem?

  • Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
  • 10 million people are abused by a partner each year. (That’s 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men).
  • Every day, abuse victims place 20,000 calls to domestic violence hotlines.
  • So far this year, there have been 475 gun-related domestic violence in the U.S.
  • 20% of women in this country have been the victim of rape. Of these, 45% were raped by an intimate partner.

What can you do? This month is a great time to focus on education, so that you are in the position to support and understand a friend or loved one who may be facing this situation personally.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence, or intimate partner abuse, is when one member of a couple engages in willful intimidation, emotional abuse, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, stalking, and/or other abusive behavior. This is part of a systematic pattern of behavior, where one intimate partner chooses to exert power and control over the other. While this can rise to the level of physical assault, much of the abuse can consist of threats and emotional abuse, including using finances and children to manipulate and intimidate the partner. These events may happen intermittently or regularly. Domestic violence happens to people of all socioeconomic conditions and education levels.

The statistics in Florida

Here are some statistics about how prevalent the problem is in your home state.

  • In 2013, 108,030 domestic violence incidents were reported to police in Florida. Many more incidents went unreported.
  • Although overall crime rates in Florida decreased in 2013, rates of domestic violence remained the same, and the incidence of stalking actually increased 19%.
  • 170 domestic violence homicides took place in Florida in 2013.
  • Guns were used in 56% of domestic violence homicides in Florida from 2006 to 2012. (The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.)

How to help someone close to you

If you’re worried about someone you know, there are steps you can take to support them. Believe it or not, giving them advice may be the last thing they need. People in abusive relationships are usually highly aware of their circumstances, because they spend hours every day strategizing about how to keep themselves, their children, and their pets safe.

What you can do is support your friend by being a patient listener, reassuring her that what is happening is not her fault, and encouraging her to talk with counselors and crisis intervention workers who are specially trained for these situations. Fundamental to this is a safety plan for how to keep herself safe. Here is some more specific advice for how to help someone in this situation, from the U.S. Office on Women’s Health.

If you want to get more involved, visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In the Orlando Area, encourage anyone who needs help to contact the Harbor House of Central Florida, which also has ideas for ways to help.

We hope you will take this opportunity to learn more in the coming weeks about this issue, and talk with people close to you about ways to help.

This article is part of the weekly blog of the American College for Medical Careers in Orlando, FL. We care about the health and well being of all of our students. For more about all of our various professional training programs, visit us online.