How can we help stop DV

Stop and think how we can help prevent domestic violence. Abuse and control can take many forms, but awareness of emotional, economic, sexual and physical abuse is the first step to stopping it.

Did you know that more than 1 in 3 women (35.6 percent) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5 percent) in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime (source: National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010 Summary Report)? These are incidents we know about, but most cases are never reported to police.

Domestic violence is usually not spoken about and is a deep, dark secret due to fear of the spouse or partner finding out and retaliating with even more abuse — or worse, death. That’s why it is so important to be aware of the signs, as well as the solutions through available resources.

When there is domestic violence in the home, it has a massive negative effect on children. They are much more likely to experience psychological problems similar to those of combat veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

There is even more damage growing up with domestic violence can do, such as increasing the likelihood to commit suicide or abuse drugs and alcohol. Then, when they grow up, they are more likely to commit a violent crime against someone else.

Signs of domestic violence not only appear in adults and children, but even in family pets. Anger sometimes is taken out on animls and then later on other family members. There are stories of pets being abandoned at public locations, shivering in a corner with a note attached by the owner explaining they couldn’t bring them with them. It is difficult to find a home or shelter in such short notice. Many shelters recognize this and have arrangements to help.

It is a heartbreaking reality and an overwhelming problem, but it can be turned around with a variety of supports and resources available 24 hours a day.

If you’re a victim, talk to someone who can give professional advice, such as a school or college counselor, church pastor, police or physician, or for immediate help call the 24-hour hotline, 1-888-563-6904. They can provide a safe place to stay and help you find resources you might need to improve your situation.

Locally, the organization to contact is the Family Counseling Center. It can be found online at http://www.thefamilycounselingcenter.org or by calling its 24-hour hotline at (518) 725-5300.

If you’re not a victim but want to help those who are, there are groups locally that put on events such as Take Back the Night (an international event and nonprofit organization with the mission of ending sexual, relationship and domestic violence in all forms).

Just lend an ear to people who tell you they have been abused, whether it is a friend, family member, neighbor or acquaintance you just met. It is worth the time to give them options and to help find help for them and/or their children. A little kindness and support can make a positive change in a person’s life. Take action today; it may save a life.

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