The YWCA of South Hampton Roads addresses one of the darkest secrets of American society: domestic violence. No one wants to talk about it, but it is a frightening reality for women, and even men. If you think it doesn’t happen to anyone that you know, think again. According to the National Center Against Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. That is more than 10 million individuals who suffer from abuse each year!
Furthermore, one in three women and one in four men experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. The sobering statistics above depict domestic violence in the United States as the epidemic that it truly is. You may be wondering what you can do to end domestic violence. The answer is simple. Redefine what you think you know about domestic violence. Start here. Start now.
WHAT DOES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
When you think of domestic violence, do images of bruises and bloody noses instantly come to mind? Though physical violence is a frequent form of domestic abuse, other forms of domestic violence exist that do not leave physical scars. Sexual violence, economic control, and emotional/psychological abuse are all forms of domestic violence which are dangerous and affect countless individuals every day.
Now, think back to your initial image of domestic violence. Was the abuser you pictured a man? Was the person being abused a woman? Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that occurs when one partner attempts to gain and maintain power and control over another within a relationship. These partners may be married, separated, or dating. Both men and women can suffer at the hands of an abuser, and both men and women can abuse. Domestic violence is indiscriminate, affecting all races, sexual orientations, and socio-economic classes.
Why do people stay in abusive relationships? The truth is, there are countless reasons why the abused stay, and each situation is as unique as the people involved. Often fear, guilt, denial, isolation, intimidation, and financial dependence are factors which prohibit individuals from escaping domestic violence.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Speak up. Speak out. Listen. You can help by directing your sister, your daughter, your best friend to the support at the YWCA of South Hampton Roads. If you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking, please call the 24-hour Coordinated Crisis Response (CCR) Hotline at 757-251-0144. The YWCA of South Hampton operates the CCR Hotline which acts as a referral site for the comprehensive, wrap-around services offered through the YWCA including emergency shelter, crisis counseling, hospital accompaniment, legal advocacy, and housing programs. The YWCA of South Hampton Roads services Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach.
For more information on how to stand up and speak out for victims of domestic violence, visit www.ywca-shr.org.
Mary Kate Andris, Ed.D., has been leading the YWCA of South Hampton Roads as President and CEO for a little over a year. She is focused on building brand awareness and increasing philanthropic revenue so that the wraparound services provided by the organization will continue to assist more than 7,000 victims each year.