Preventing Domestic Abuse
Did You Know...
- In California, it is a crime for any person to threaten, beat, sexually assault or otherwise harm another person, even if they are married.
- Domestic violence is more than just a "family problem" - it is a crime!
- Battering is not exclusively a crime against women, but they do constitute the majority of victims.
Although we have few statistics on the incidence of domestic violence, we do know that:
- Approximately 30 percent of female homicide victims in the United States are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.
- Females are much more likely than males to be killed by their spouse.
- Domestic violence affects at least one out of every four American families.
- From 1973-1981, the U.S. Department of Justice Statistics reports that 2.2 million women reported abuse by a mate.
Why Do They Stay?
The most frequently asked question concerning a battering situation is why does she stay? While reasons cover the range from children, love, guilt, fear, pride, embarrassment, financial dependence - or a combination thereof - it is very possible the woman is unaware that she may be locked into a violence cycle.
Three-Phase Theory of Family Violence
The family violence cycle consists of three phases:
- Tension-Building Phase:
- During this phase the woman senses her mate's increasing tension. He is "edgy," and perhaps challenges her and tells her she is stupid, incompetent, etc. The woman may internalize her appropriate anger at the man's unfairness, and experience physical effects such as depression, tension, anxiety and headaches. As the tension increases, minor episodes of violence increase, such as pinching, slapping or shoving.
- Acute-Battering Phase:
- The tension-building phase ends in an explosion of violence. The woman may or may not fight back following the battering because she is in a state of physical and psychological shock. The man may discount the episode and underestimate the woman's injuries.
- Loving Reconciliation Phase:
- During the last phase of the family violence cycle, both parties have a sense of relief that "it's over." The man is often genuinely sorry for what happened, and is fearful his partner will leave him. He apologizes and may "shower" her with love and praise that helps her repair her shattered self-esteem. He tells her he can't live without her, so she feels responsible for his well-being and guilty for her actions and blames herself for what led up to the abuse.
Increasing Spiral of Violence
Once the violence has begun, it continues to increase in both frequency and severity. Understanding the psychological consequences of her violent relationship can help the woman take power and choose constructive alternatives, as well as aid those who intervene to help her.
If You Become a Victim of Domestic Violence
- Call the police or sheriff.
- Make sure you are safe from another beating. Whenever you believe you are in danger, leave your home and take your children with you. Also, take important papers such as your birth certificate, vehicle registration, etc.
- Get medical attention. Don't try to treat yourself; you may be injured much more seriously than you realize.
- Seek assistance. Whether or not you file charges against your batterer, you may need to talk to a professional about your situation. Contact your local battered women's shelter, women's support group or victims assistance center.
- Save all the evidence (proof) you can. (You may even want to take photographs of your injuries). Whether or not you file charges now, you may later change your mind and will then need proof that you have been assaulted.
A Way Out
Everyone has the right to be safe from threats and beatings, but you must take that first step. Once you recognize that it isn't your fault and it is possible to change your situation, seek the help you need to correct your situation.
If you want the help of a women's organization and aren't sure if there is one in your community, contact one of the groups listed below for further information:
- In Orange County:
- The Women's Transitional Living Center - 992-1931
Laura's House - 949-361-3775 (business) 949-498-1511 (24-hour crisis hotline), or 866-498-1511
- In Northern California:
- Northern California Shelter Support Services
Post Office Box 1955
San Mateo, California 94401
415-342-0850 (24 hours)
- In Southern California:
- Southern California Coalition for Battered Women
Post Office Box 5036
Santa Monica, California 90405
9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday
- Information and Referral Federation
818-350-4400 (24 hours)
The Fullerton Police Department