Domestic abuse, a reality

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). Relatively everyone is impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault either directly or indirectly, but many do not realize it.

Domestic violence is an alarming and pervasive problem in our country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.

Although anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, women are disproportionately affected. One in four women is the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner compared to one and seven men.

Despite its prevalence, the patterns of domestic violence are not fully understood by many bystanders. Domestic violence does not look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different.

Broadly speaking, domestic violence occurs when a pattern of abusive behavior used by an intimate partner against another to gain, maintain, or regain power and control in the relationship.

These patterns of abusive behavior can include physical, sexual, verbal, and psychological abuse, as well as economic coercion, to terrorize, manipulate, humiliate, injure, and sometimes kill an intimate partner.

Not only are the costs of domestic violence experienced personally by victims and their families, but society as a whole bears the cost as well.

According to the CDC, the costs associated with domestic violence, including costs for medical and mental health care, lost productivity, and homicide cost well over $10 billion dollars annually.

There are several ways to be involved in ending domestic violence. UVM students can help by:
¥Taking part in VoxÕs DVAM photo campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence
¥Volunteering for Women Helping Battered Women, a local nonprofit that works to end domestic violence in Burlington
¥Calling the police if you see or hear violence in progress. Abuse and domestic violence is a crime, even when it occurs between people in a relationship.

¥Examining your own life for violence and oppressive behaviors.

Society should not ignore the presence of domestic violence. While this month is a great way to spread awareness, much greater attention could be used. Anyone could be a victim, but ultimately no one should be oppressed. There are resources out there to help, in addition to people who care.