The pandemic has affected countless lives beyond the millions who have been infected with the virus. Millions of others have been trapped with abusers by stay-at-home orders meant to stop the spread of the disease.
Abusers, who often isolate their victims, now have an easier time of terrorizing those close to them emotionally, physically, and sexually.
Fear and financial dependence prevent the majority of victims from seeking help. As a result, injuries go untreated, stress builds up, psychological wounds get deeper, and the results can be death by either homicide or suicide.
Identifying the Problem
Violence was first listed as a health issue priority by the United States Surgeon General in 1979. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the National Institute of Justice conducted the National Violence Against Women Survey from 1995 to 1996. It was the first real collection of data on intimate partner violence (IPV).
IPV refers to behavior in any intimate relationship that causes physical, sexual, or psychological harm to those in the relationship.
- Physical — hitting, slapping, kicking, beating
- Sexual — forced sexual intercourse or other coerced sexual activity
- Psychological — insults, intimidation, threats, destroying property, humiliation, stalking
- Isolation — isolating someone from family and friends; keeping them from work or school; restricting access to money or medical care, monitoring movements
By the Numbers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts an ongoing National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey that gathers data on domestic and intimate partner violence.
According to the CDC’s survey:
- 1 in 5 women — and 1 in 7 men — report experiencing severe physical violence from an intimate partner.
- 1 in 5 women — and 1 in 12 men — have experienced violent sexual contact by an intimate partner.
- 10% of women — and 2% of men — report having been stalked by an intimate partner.
- 43 million women — and 38 million men — experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Survivors of IPV face a host of health issues with physical injuries being most common. About 35% of women and 11% of men who survive IPV experience some physical injury related to their abuse. Death is also a result. Crime statistics show that in one of five cases an intimate partner killed the victim. More than half of all female homicide victims are killed by current or past male partners.
IPV survivors are also at risk for other chronic conditions that the:
Survivors also tend to suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They face a higher risk for addictive behaviors like smoking, binge drinking, and risky sexual activity.
Recognizing Domestic Violence
It can be hard to speak up for someone you think is being abused. We have a tendency to make excuses for why things are a certain way, or we’re worried we’ll be told to, “mind our own business.” But you might be the difference between life and death for someone who is being abused.
- Excuses for injuries
- Personality changes, especially around their partner
- Wearing long sleeves in the summer or sunglasses at night
- Skipping work, school, or gatherings for no real reason
- Always checking in with their partner
- Wanting to please their partner
- Never having money
If you suspect someone is being abused, you should:
- Ask if they’re OK
- Tell them why you’re worried and be specific
- Let them know you’re there for them
- Offer help
- Respect their choices
- Don’t tell them what they should do
We’re Here for You
AltaMed is available to help you find resources so you can make a plan to leave an abusive relationship. Our Behavioral Health Services are staffed with licensed clinical social workers who speak English and Spanish and are trained to help you through whatever life puts in your way. You don’t have to go through it alone. To learn more about our services, call (855) 425-1777.