October is domestic violence awareness month, which has been designated to bring additional awareness to the issue of domestic violence and how it affects families and communities.
The following statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence highlight the scope of the issue:
- On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience some form of intimate partner violence or stalking in their lifetime.
- On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
- 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year. Of these children, 90% are eyewitnesses to this violence.
Abusers come in many forms, and they can easily pass as everyday people. Domestic violence also comes in many forms: emotional, physical, sexual, economic, and psychological. Common signs of an abusive relationship can be:
- Preventing contact with family and friends
- Controlling what a partner wears
- Destroying property and making threats
- Blaming the survivor with mind games and other tactics
- Criticizing the survivor’s appearance or behavior
- Shoving, hitting, strangulation, and any forced sexual act
Domestic violence affects the whole family, as well as generations to come. Our goal is to not only help people recognize the signs of abuse, but also to help empower families with the skills they need to break the cycle of abuse.
One of the key programs we offer at Family Builders is the Batterers Intervention Program. In this 52-week group program certified by the Attorney General, participants discuss topics including personal responsibility, the effect of violence on others, beliefs that promote domestic violence, and tools for healthy relationships. It is a truly transformative program for many of the participants.
When people think of domestic violence, most probably think of the man as the abuser and woman as the victim, since women are the more likely victims of domestic violence. However, women can also be abusers, so our Batterers Intervention Program offers separate group sessions for men and women.
Most of the people who enter our program grew up in an abusive environment, and it’s the only way they know to act. Our program seeks to help people understand a different way in order to break the cycle of abuse. For some clients, their ultimate goal is to be reunited with their family, while other clients may not have that opportunity. Our goal for each client in the program is to help them take ownership of their actions and make a positive change for the future. In doing so, we can change the statistics about domestic violence and change lives for the better.
We also recently began a partnership with Palomar, a family justice center, to offer parenting classes to their clients, which helps advance our goal of preventing domestic violence and child abuse.