Victims and abusers need help

By Thunderword Staff

Victims and abusers need help

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is here, bringing to light victims' continuing struggles.

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior by one intimate partner against another. Stalking, threats of physical or sexual violence, and emotional abuse all are included under this term.

Domestic violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime nationwide. In Washington during 2014, intimate partners perpetrated almost 20 percent of aggravated assaults, 32 percent of simple assaults, and 41 percent of abductions.

Both women and men can be victims, both being near equally likely to experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. However, women are more than eight times more likely than men to have been inflicted with serious injuries due to domestic violence.

Not all of the statistics are bad. Since 1994, rates of domestic violence have dropped 63 percent, following the downtrend of violent crime. There is also an increase in the number of programs and foundations available to victims.

In King County, the Consejo Counseling and Referral Service, the Domestic Abuse Women's Network, Auburn Youth Resources, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, the Refugee Women's Alliance, and the King County Protection Order Advocacy Program all offer services to those involved in domestic violence situations. For more information about these programs and contact information, visit vonReichbauer/Services/domesticviolence.aspx.

Also available is the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which helps with counseling for victims and abusers, as well
as connecting victims to resources in their communities. The hotline is also a safe space for domestic violence survivors to share their stories. The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1 (800) 799-7233. Information can also be found at www.theho-

Having both parties receive help is important in cases of domestic violence. Abusers also need help to find ways to communicate their emotions, needs, and desires. Without building these communication and management skills, they will continue to harm current and future partners.

While these services are important, both abusers and victims struggle to get the help they need, as the demand for services has stretched funding. Approximately one quarter of those seeking help related to domestic violence are turned away from programs due to lack of funding.

The inability to get help, even when it is asked for, puts victims at risk. Many of these programs are provided to give victims a safe place to go as they work to end their relationships, providing housing and other necessities. When these programs are forced to turn victims away, those who can't afford to live on their own are often forced to return to violent relationships. While it is not guaranteed they will experience violence by this partner again, domestic violence typically escalates and becomes more frequent.

Turning away abusive partners can also endanger victims. While abusers have recognized they have a problem and have tried to get help, their issues remain unsolved, meaning they will likely continue to commit more acts of violence.

The lack of access to fully capable resources risks terrible con- sequences, but there are ways to help.

Be aware of the issues. The likelihood is that someone around you, whether on campus or elsewhere, is experiencing domestic violence. Understand the challenges they face and offer help.

Support programs and resources for domestic violence victims and abusers. This could be through volunteering or through a simple donation. All the programs listed above provide information for volunteers and donors on their sites.

Through continued support for those facing domestic violence and the programs that help them, the rates of domestic violence will continue to decrease, promising a safer future.

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