I thought about something the other day that I had not thought about in a while. I remember seeing a young man slap his girlfriend. The reason? She evidently stayed in the restroom too long. People, we were in Jr. high school so that put us between the ages of 12-15.
Consequently, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month with good reason then. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) states, “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States.” And no, this does not include women only because NCADV continues, “During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. One in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.” And lastly, “1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”
Clearly, this is an epidemic. So much so that I wanted to get information from someone who has a bird’s eye view of this issue. I interviewed Michelle Allen, a Child Protective Service Assessment Worker from the Memphis and Shelby County Department of Children’s Services. She has 13 years of experience in case management. And even though the following information is slanted to when the perpetrator is male, as we discussed earlier, the perpetrator can be female.
Michelle, what are the main reasons why men hit women?
Many times a man could have been exposed to a violent environment growing up and now believes this is the way women should be treated. Other times, the man involved has severe anger, mental health, or substance abuse issues.
Why does domestic violence have little to do with economics, education, or intellect?
Because low self-esteem or lack of confidence has no boundaries. Traditional norms of how the person was brought up or raised are key factors as well.
Why does it seem harder to leave an abusive mate the longer a woman stays?
It may be financial reasons (he controls the money). Additionally, the woman may not have work skills, a driver’s license, or even transportation. Other reasons may include: emotional abuse or suppression, physical abuse, low self-esteem, she has been cut off from her support (family/friends), and just wanting to stick it out for the kids so they can grow up with a father.
Lastly, how can a woman identify early in the relationship that the man is manifesting traits of an abuser?
The woman should become familiar with his background. For instance, what kind of relationship does he have with his mother? Does he have overly controlling behaviors? Is he jealous? And it may sound odd but try to be objective when the man ‘seems too good to be true.’
For those who are suffering in an abusive relationship, please reach out for assistance. If you have no one you can personally turn to, then call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). And for those of us who are not in an abusive relationship, remember these tips for not only yourself but for others in need as well.