CATES: Domestic Violence Prevention

I have mentioned before that my husband is a teacher. He made the comment to me the other day that he thinks the kids are trying for a record number of fights in his school this year. There have also been a huge number of articles in the news lately about an increase in violence toward health care providers and first responders in the last few years. Mass shootings plague our nation and have horrifically touched our community. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like things just keep getting more and more violent. Unfortunately, that tendency is showing in domestic violence as well.

We know that in 2020 child abuse reporting decreased, but severe injuries and deaths related to child abuse increased. The experts feel this is largely because with kids not being in school, that safety mechanism in mandatory reporting suspected abuse by teachers and other school officials was not there. Domestic violence has seen a similar trend. Reporting overall is down, but severe injuries and deaths have increased. Fortunately, we have gotten our kids back to school, and that safety net to help with reporting suspected abuse, and with it preventing many severe injuries and deaths, has been restored. But that is not the case with domestic violence, largely because the social isolation and economic pressures for many adults still exists as it did at the beginning of the pandemic. The increase in domestic violence since the beginning of the pandemic is so severe that many of the experts and specialists who help victims of domestic violence are calling it the “pandemic within the pandemic”. Domestic violence incidents resulting in severe injury or death have increased by 8.1% since the lockdown orders were first issued in March 2020 according to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice.

Even without the pandemic, domestic violence is a big problem in the US. On average 20 people every minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. That works to about 10 million people every year. 1 in 4 American women and 1 in 9 American men experience severe intimate partner physical violence in their lifetime, and 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence (for example slapping, shoving, shaking) from an intimate partner. Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of the violent crime in the US.

It’s not just the intimate partners who suffer when domestic violence occurs in a family. 72% of all murder-suicides involve intimate partners, and 20% of the deaths related to intimate partner homicides are bystanders—people who try to stop the violence. In 70% of homes with domestic violence by an intimate partner, there is also child abuse. Men who abuse their intimate partners are 6 times more likely to sexually abuse their children, and women who are abused are 2 times more likely to abuse their children. Globally, 275 million children each year witness violence firsthand at home.

To me, the scariest statistic out there is the awful problem that many victims of domestic violence face in that they are 75% less likely to die if they stay in the abusive relationship. That statistic alone shows why it is so important to stop the cycle of violence with domestic abuse. It is quite literally a trap. Without intervention, it is incredibly difficult for victims to escape.

Fortunately, here in the Permian Basin we have a fantastic resource to help prevent domestic violence and assist victims in getting out of the trap of domestic violence. The Crisis Center of West Texas offers many domestic violence services from emergency assistance with assistance with safety planning, shelter, and counseling, to helping friends and families learn about how they can help a victim. They accompany victims to hospitals and advocate with medical and law enforcement, and then later with the legal system. Their hotline number is 1-866-627-4747 if you are a victim of domestic violence and need help or need help for someone in your life. In the realm of prevention, they have education for nearly every facet of the community to teach people how to avoid the trap of domestic violence before it ever occurs. If you would like to host or are interested in receiving prevention education, please contact their Community Services Department at 432-333-2527.