- Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Not only are women between the ages of 19 and 28 abused, so too are many other persons who become the "hidden" victims in our communities. After reading the below information, we invite you to reach out for the help that you need and deserve.
Abuse of elderly men and women is increasing. Approximately 1 in 25 seniors are battered. Financial abuse of seniors is one of the fastest growing crimes of our time. Domestic Violence, in the case of this population, includes not only physical abuse, but neglect as well. Elderly individuals experience a decrease in their physical abilities and their ability to earn income past the fixed rate of a pension or Social Security check. As a result, they are frequently more financially dependent upon family members. Often, they are no longer able to drive and become more isolated from social supports. Lastly, if the elderly person has a diagnosis of dementia, they are less likely to be validated and/or believed when accusations of abuse and mistreatment are made.
Abuse of the population of persons with physical disabilities can be a serious problem, and while domestic violence does not occur at a higher rate within this community, it does last for longer periods of time. People with a physical disability are generally more vulnerable as they are often less able to defend themselves during an assault. This population tends to be more isolated from their communities at large as many places are not accessible to them, or they are on a fixed income which prevents them from affording transportation costs. Abusive partners of people with disabilities may withhold or throw away medication, cancel doctor's appointments that are difficult to get scheduled, and they may withhold wheel chairs, braces, or prosthetic devices.
Contrary to many myths about domestic violence only occurring against women, we know that women also abuse men, albeit at a statistically lower rate than men against women. Men are much less likely to report abuse or ask for help due to a combination of cultural pressures;
Often people with mental challenges have been raised to believe that you should always listen to authority figures, which could equal parents, friends, teachers, and caregivers. So they may not feel comfortable trying to defend themselves, question the actions or behavior of a family member, or advocate for themselves and reach out for help. The most common type of abuse for survivors in this population is verbal/emotional abuse and neglect. Due to the stigma and lack of basic education in every day society that exists around people with MRDD or Mental Health challenges, this particular population may have burned a lot of bridges in their communities and with their family members, isolating them further from observant eyes that could witness and report abuse/neglect. Survivors with this specific type of challenge often have trouble accessing resources such as:
Domestic violence in this population occurs at the same rate statistically as in heterosexual relationships. Due to the significant presence of homophobia in our society, a large portion of the GLBT community may choose to stay "in the closet." Therefore facing greater isolation and being less likely to reach out for help from domestic violence service providers, law enforcement officers, the judicial system, the church they attend, or from an unaccepting family. To come out of the closet, and acknowledge that they are in an intimate relationship with a same gendered partner, may create large risk(s) of loss of their job, their rental unit, their family, and the spiritual support of their church. In addition, many states have passed legislation that prevents recognition of any type of GLBT intimate partner relationship which can mean civil protection orders may be denied to the victim and violence would be considered "assault" which is not an enhanceable offense. One partner may not be viewed as a legal parent of children they are raising together–and therefore be charged with kidnapping. A judge may allow homophobia to color their decision and therefore the victim's safety. A law enforcement officer called out to the home may not be educated enough to tell who is the victim and who is the abuser–therefore arresting and charging both parties with domestic violence. Lastly, if a lesbian or bisexual woman with an abusive female partner doesn't "come out" on the hotline, she may be placed in a shelter where her abuser has been placed after pretending to be a victim in need of emergency protective shelter.
The following is a list of types of abuse that could be happening to any of the above groups of people.