A recent government study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has concluded that 1 in every 4 women experience a violent attack on behalf of their boyfriend or spouse. Think about that number. Why is this figure so alarming? Most people know at least four women, whether friends, family or coworkers. It is also likely that most people would be very astonished if they knew that a close acquaintance had experienced such traumatizing events. That is why this figure is so powerful.
A number of questions arise from this figure, such as “why didn’t I know before?” or “how did the figures change so drastically over the past years?” The truth is, a number of things contribute to the answers of both questions. Many women feel threaten, judged and ashamed when deciding to come forward and report abuses of domestic violence. Some women will not even make it as far as considering reporting an option. Often, in cases involving a close relationship -such as a husband or boyfriend- the victims will feel threatened, powerless and insecure. Other times, victims do not want to believe that their partner would act in a violent manner towards them, or are quick to forgive any apology -even after multiple occurrences of domestic violence.
Given that every incident of domestic violence is situational, it is hard to determine what exactly stops some people from coming forward. However, as many as 29 million women have said they have suffered severe and frightening physical violence from a boyfriend, spouse or other intimate partner. That includes being choked, beaten, stabbed, shot, punched, slammed against something or hurt by hair-pulling. That number grows to a shocking 36 million if slapping, pushing and shoving are counted.
Reporting domestic violence is something that is clearly of great importance, for these numbers show that domestic violence cases are no longer a small percentage of crimes in the United States, but rather an increasing point of concern.
If you’re the victim of domestic violence, or know someone who is, you must report it to the police and the courts, who may issue a restraining order order or incarcarate the abuser. Do not remain silent: Take these steps to end domestic abuse today.
- Gather the correct information. If you are reporting for a neighbor or a friend, have the exact address and time of the incident ready for the police. Jot down any details such as the sound of furniture breaking, yelling or crying. Provide the police with as much detail as you can.
- Contact 911 to report domestic violence while it is happening. Describe the situation and provide your contact information to the operator. Communicate with the operator as clearly as possible. Attempt to find a safe place to wait until the police arrive.
- Get in touch with the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE to report abuse after the fact.
- Be willing to go to court. You may have to appear as a witness to prosecute the perpetrator.
Finally, if you have experienced these abuses, make sure to see proper counseling and visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website to find more victims in your local area you can connect with and help.