Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that includes the use or threat of violence and intimidation for the purpose of gaining and maintaining power and control. The abuse may be directed at an intimate partner, a date, a spouse, a former partner/spouse, an elder relative, a parent, a sibling, a child, or multiple family members.
A feminist view of domestic violence identifies such violence as one of the many tools of oppression used to support sexism, racism, heterosexism and other oppressive behaviors. Domestic violence crosses boundaries of age, religious beliefs, marital status, income, race, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, ethnicity, and gender. Given these circumstances, WRC advocates for dialogue and action to stop the violence while coping with the immediate crisis and impact of domestic violence on individuals and communities.
The use of abusive and controlling behaviors is learned and can be unlearned given interruption, accountability, and dedicated life changes on the part of the abusive party. Domestic violence is not caused by alcohol, neurosis, stress or unemployment, although it is certainly exacerbated by these conditions.
Sexual violence is a spectrum of acts of aggression that violate individuals and impact our communities. The spectrum ranges from such experiences as “cat calls”, sexual degradation of women, molestation of children, date rape, sexual exploitation, assault, marital rape, and femicide.
A feminist view of sexual violence identifies such violence as one of the many tools of oppression used to support racism, sexism, heterosexism and other oppressive behaviors. Sexual violence crosses boundaries of age, religious beliefs, marital status, income, race, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, ethnicity, and gender. Given these circumstances, WRC advocates for dialogue and action to stop the violence while coping with the immediate crisis and impact of sexual violence on individuals and communities.
Stalking is a repetitive pattern of unwanted, harassing or threatening behaviors committed by one person against another. Acts include: telephone harassment; following someone; sending unwanted gifts; and using global positioning systems (GPS), pagers, and cell-phones to track someone’s whereabouts.
Be a friend
- Be a good listener. Tell her “it is not your fault” and “you don’t deserve it.” Help her to find resources and support available in your community.
- Know that domestic violence can happen in lesbian and gay relationships. Be willing to hear.
- Know who to call for help. Find the numbers of the local domestic violence and rape crisis center, women’s shelter, and local police. Remember, it is the survivors’ decision and let her lead you on how you can help her.
- Don’t be critical of his/her partner.
- Let your friend make his/her own decision about continuing or ending the relationship. Offer friendship and support no matter what he/she chooses to do.
- Recognize that domestic violence crosses all socio-economic lines and social strata.
- Know that violence is not an acceptable way to deal with anger and conflict. She did not ask for it. She did not deserve it.
Be a role model
- Make a commitment to non-violence. Let others know about your commitment.
- Work to end oppression in its many forms.
- Learn nonviolent conflict resolution strategies for your own relationships with your partner and when disciplining your children.
Source: adapted from and used with permission of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and the National Sexual Assault Resource Center.
A person chooses to be violent towards another person. Anger, depression, alcohol and drugs do not cause violence, thought they may contribute to it. As a result of violence, the world of the victim becomes smaller and smaller. If you see your friend is hurting someone,
- Say that a violent behavior is not OK. It’s a sign that a person has a problem and needs help.
- Offer to talk with the person about alternatives to violence (for example, walking away, talking about the problem, and seeking counseling or a support group).
- Do not reinforce the abusive behavior by laughing, minimizing, or ignoring an act of violence or a threat.
- Speak up If your friend is disrespecting or putting down his/her partner, girlfriend, or boyfriend.
- Do not escalate a volatile situation, thereby putting yourself or the victim at increased risk.
- If you witness an assault, call the police or school/campus security.
- Interrupt sexist remarks and choose not to participate in activities that are harassing.
- Interrupt discriminatory statements and jokes by friends, colleagues, family, and others, when you are able.
- Inform those who you know to be abusive of your support for non-violent means of handling conflict and your lack of tolerance for abusive behaviors.
- Organize your community group’s involvement in the local task force to end domestic and/or sexual violence. Invite advocates from your local domestic violence and rape crisis center to conduct education programs with your professional association, civic club members, or community/school group.
- Ask your employer about their company policy on workplace violence and sexual harassment, and learn of their practices in supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence and holding accountable perpetrators of such violence.
- Ask your faith leader to speak of non-violence while identifying the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence. Partner with others in your faith community and/or worksite to create a safe environment for survivors to disclose and be supported within their own faith/work communities.
- Write to your legislators to let them know your position on violence against women and children.
- Inquire about your legislators’ positions on domestic violence and sexual assault, and then hold them to their word.
- Write letters to the editor of your local paper(s) when an opportunity arises or violence is reported on in the media.
- Initiate and become involved in conversations about violence at home and on the streets.
- Educate yourself and listen to survivors. Attend community wide events sponsored by your local domestic violence and rape crisis center.
- Approach your local business(es) to join in a community education campaign displaying posters, flyers, and other educational information.
- Talk to your school’s PTO or PTA about sponsoring a panel or discussion on dating violence, sexual harassment in the schools, domestic violence, and/or sexual assault.
- Involve a school club in organizing teens for non-violence.
- Invite advocates from WRC to conduct education programs with your professional association, civic club members, or community/school group.
- Organize a fund raising event through your local civic club.
- Volunteer at the Women’s Resource Center.
- Organize donation drives for the WRC shelter. Contact us for an updated wish list.
- Contribute money in any amount whenever possible.