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Breaking the silence of domestic violence

By Final Call News | Last updated: Jun 7, 2017 - 8:01:20 AM

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“Indecision makes you paralyzed.” The decision to leave an abusive relationship often takes women too long to make.  Unfortunately, sometimes the decision can come “fatally” late.  However, organizations like afterthetrauma.org and others are trying to help provide women with the resources to make their decision easier.  After all, wouldn’t it be easier to leave and survive an abusive situation if you had emotional and spiritual support along with the finances to make sure your family is secure? 

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Nevertheless, the best way to reduce domestic violence is prevention.  We must help teach our young girls and boys to value themselves and their relationship with God.  Teach them to stay away from people who do not feed their spirit “good food” or positive words.  Teach them to identify signs.  What are the signs of an abuser?  What are the types of domestic violence?  

“Domestic Violence can take different forms,” according to Dr. Arisha Muhammad, an experienced social worker/addiction specialist and domestic violence facilitator. “But its goal is always the same. Batterers want to control their domestic partners through fear.  They do this by abusing them physically, sexually, psychologically and economically,” she explained. 

The California Penal Code defines abuse as “intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, or placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious, bodily injury to himself, herself, or another”

Dr. Arisha Muhammad explained that domestic violence can take the form of: 

• Physical abuse:  hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, punching/beating.

• Verbal abuse: Constant criticism, mocking, yelling, name-calling, humiliating remarks.

• Sexual Violence: Forcing sex on unwilling partner, degrading treatment, demanding sexual acts that the victim does not want to perform.

• Isolation:  Making it hard for the victim to see friends and relatives, monitoring phone calls,  reading mail, controlling where the victim goes.

• Coercion: Making the victim feel guilty, pushing victim into decision, using children.

• Economic Control: Not paying bills, refusing to give victim money, not letting victim work interfering with victim’s job, refusing to work and support family.

• Threats and Intimidation: Threatening to harm the victim, the children and family members, threatening victim with weapons.

Children in abusive homes are victims too, even if they are not physically abused themselves. Witnessing violence in the home causes emotional suffering and many corresponding problems for children, including increased anxiety, aggressive behavior, depression and a lack of self-esteem.  Children who grow up in hostile or abusive environments can sometimes demonstrate violent behavior as adolescents or enter into abusive relationship as adults.  Most often the victim in a domestically violent relationship is the woman.  However, women can also be abusive by behavior, particularly verbally. 

“The most difficult type of abuse to identify is emotional and financial abuse,” said Dr. Arisha Muhammad. “A woman may be afraid she’ll lose the abuser’s financial support.  She may lose access to the support of some friends and family.”  Women tend not to leave an abusive relationship for three reasons:

1. Love:  Batterers are convinced that the abusers will change his or her ways. Batterers may express remorse and ask for forgiveness with seemingly loving gestures.

2. Fear:  Batterers has the power and control, and most often victims believe they are the cause of the batterers anger, victims believe that they can stop the abuse by changing how they behave. Lastly, some fear they will be found, and maybe she or her children will be killed.

3. Denial: Victims deny that the abuse has occurred or make light of a violent episode. Denial often blocks victims from the reality. Also victims usually feel they do not have any place to go where they can be safe from the batterer, therefore the victim sometimes feel it is safer to stay with the batterer than to try to escape. 

Overall, prevention is the key.  Some resources for treatment and support include:

• 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE where domestic violence advocates will help with referrals to programs and services nationwide. The hotline also has multilingual operators and a telecommunication device for the Deaf (TDD) Line.

• STAND!  Against Domestic Violence 1-888-215-5555 (Crisis Hotline)

•Stepping Stones (Sexual Abuse Counseling for Children and Adults) 1-800-670-7273

(The above is excerpted from an interview conducted by Audrey Muhammad publisher of Virtue Today Magazine with Dr. Arisha Muhammad, an experienced social worker who specializes in domestic violence prevention in Los Angeles, Calif.)

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