October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Submitted by Samuel Treanor, Human Resources Analyst

Domestic violence (“DV”) or intimate partner violence (“IPV”) is one of those subjects that it seems everyone is against but no one wishes to discuss. Statistically, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been exposed to some form of domestic violence in their life.

With the frequency of incidents, why is DV not talked about? Typically, there is a conception that if abuse is too bad at home, the victim would just leave. While all IPV situations are different, leaving is always the most dangerous time. Victims in the process of leaving are at the highest risk for serious injury or murder, even when the abuse has not been physical before.

Aside from the risk, the abused person may feel like they are betraying their partner, feel guilty, or feel ashamed. Leaving is sometimes considered a personal failure, or is culturally or religiously forbidden. Additionally, the abusive partner typically has isolated the victim to make them feel truly alone. Issues around leaving become even more complicated when children are involved, both for considerations of safety, and how the abusive partner is using them to compel the victim to stay. Thus, it is not always as simple as saying they should just leave.

Further, after leaving, many survivors are faced with limited options. Homelessness is a serious concern. Many IPV situations involve financial abuse, meaning the survivor has limited or no funds for rent or housing support programs that often have wait lists.

Contra Costa County’s intimate partner violence service agency is STAND! For Families Free of Violence. Their 24-hour crisis and counseling line is (888) 215-5555. Check out this book list created by staff to learn more about domestic violence.