Preventing Domestic Abuse
Did you know...
- In Pennsylvania, it is a crime for any person to threaten, beat, sexually assault or otherwise harm another person, even if they are married.
- Domestic violence is more than just a "family problem" it is a crime!
- Battering is not exclusively a crime against women, but they do constitute the majority of victims.
Although we have few statistics on the incidence of domestic violence, we do know that:
- Approximately 30 percent of female homicide victims in the United States are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.
- Females are much more likely than males to be killed by their spouse.
- Domestic violence affects at least one out of every four American families.
- From 1973-1981, the U.S. Department of Justice Statistics reports that 2.2 million women reported abuse by a mate.
- In Bucks County over 15,000 women are abused each year and 30,000 children are secondary victims.
Why do they stay?
The most frequently asked question concerning a battering situation is why does she stay? While reasons cover the range from children, love, guilt, fear, pride, embarrassment, financial dependence or any combination of these factors it is possible the woman is unaware that she may be locked into a violence cycle.
Three-Phase Theory of Family Violence
The family violence cycle consists of three phases:
1. Tension Building Phase:
During this phase the woman senses her mate's increasing tension. He is "edgy" and perhaps challenges her and tells her she is stupid, incompetent, etc. The woman may internalize her appropriate anger at the man's unfairness, and experience physical effects such as depression, tension, anxiety and headaches. As the tension increases, minor episodes of violence increase, such as pinching, slapping or shoving.
2. Acute Battering Phase:
The tension building phase ends in an explosion of violence. The woman may or may not fight back following the battering because she is in a state of physical and psychological shock. The man may discount the episode and underestimate the woman's injuries.
3. Loving Reconciliation Phase:
During the last phase of the family violence cycle, both parties have a sense of relief that "it's over." The man is often genuinely sorry for what happened, and is fearful his partner will leave him. He apologizes and may shower her with love and praise that helps repair her shattered self-esteem. He tells her he can't live without her, so she feels responsible for his well being and guilty for her actions and blames herself for what led to the abuse.
Increasing Spiral of Violence
Once the violence has begun, it continues to increase in both frequency and severity. Understanding the psychological consequences of her violent relationship can help the woman take power and choose constructive alternatives, as well as aid those who intervene to help her.
If you become a victim of Domestic Violence
- Call the police.
- Make sure you are safe from another beating. Whenever you believe you are in danger, leave your home and take your children with you. Also, take important papers such as your birth certificate, vehicle registration, etc.
- Get medical attention. Don't try to treat yourself, you may be injured much more seriously than you realize.
- Seek assistance. Whether or not you file charges against your batterer, you may need to talk to a professional about your situation. Contact your local battered women's support group or victims assistance center.
- Save all the evidence you can, including photographs of your injuries. Whether or not you file charges now, you may later change your mind and will then need proof that you have been assaulted.
- Follow through with prosecution including attending all court appearances.
A Way Out
Everyone has the right to be safe from threats and beatings, but you must take that first step to break the cycle of violence. Once you recognize that it isn't your fault and it is possible to change your situation, seek the help you need to correct your situation. Love shouldn't hurt!
If you want help contact one of the groups listed below for further information:
A Woman's Place
(24-hour hotline) 1-800-220-8116
P.O. Box 299, Doylestown, PA 18901
- 24-hour hotline
- empowerment counseling
- children's services
- legal advocacy and court accompaniment
- medical advocacy
- support groups for women, children, teens
- in service training
- speaker's bureau
- school-based prevention program
Bucks County Domestic Relations
30 East Court Street
Doylestown, PA 18901
1240 New Rogers Road, #806
Bristol, PA 19007
LADA (Legal Aid Domestic Abuse)
- legal information regarding domestic abuse
- assistance in filing Protection from Abuse Orders
- legal representation for domestic abuse victims at PFA hearings
- court accompaniment and advocacy