BY KRISTINE KUMANGAI
Does your partner get jealous when you spend time with your friends or family? Have you ever been afraid of your partner? Does your partner ever call you names or put you down? If you answered yes to these questions, you may be a victim of domestic violence. If you have witnessed these things happening to someone you know they may be a victim of domestic violence.
What is domestic violence? According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
• Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
• Every seven seconds a woman is beaten by an intimate partner.
• Women are seven to 14 times more likely than men to report suffering severe physical assaults from an intimate partner.
• Domestic violence occurs across all lines of education levels and socioeconomic status.
• According to national statistics, domestic violence happens to any race, sexual orientation, religion, age or gender.
• It takes an average of seven attempts for a person to leave a violent relationship.
Alcohol, mental illness, drugs, anger or stress does not cause domestic violence. Domestic violence is caused by learned behavior, reinforcement and belief systems. Learned behavior are actions you learn through observation and experience. Reinforcement is seeing those actions consistently portrayed in daily life such as: media, family and society. Belief systems are when these reinforced actions are thought to be then normal or acceptable in society.
Because of these belief systems there are many reasons why a person does not “just leave” a relationship such as:
• Children- People are afraid to break up the family.
• Economics- S/He may be financially dependent on partner.
• Shame- People are afraid to ask for help because they may be perceived as failures.
• Fear- Victims are scared for their life and the ones they love.
• Love- S/He may honestly love and care for partner and believe that they can change the abuser’s behavior.
• Religion- There are religious beliefs that keep the victim in an abusive relationship.
Domestic violence is not something that happens just once. There are three stages in the cycle of violence. The first stage is tension building where the victim feels like they are walking on eggshells, afraid of what the abuser will do and/or may rationalize the abuse. The second stage is the abusive stage where the abuser becomes physically, emotionally and/or verbally violent. The third stage is the kiss up or make up stage where the abuser showers the victim with love and affection. Victims believe that the abuse will stop. However tension may build and the cycle begins again.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence there are local and national resources to help you break the cycle:
• Asian and Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center (APIWFSC)
• Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA) (206) 322-4856
• Chaya (206) 325-0325
• Chinese Information Service Center (CISC) (206) 624-4062
• Northwest Network of Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Survivors of Abuse (206) 568-7777
• Refugee Women’s Alliance (REWA) (206) 721-3846
• National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7235)
The Seattle Chapter of NAPAWF is dedicated to forging a grassroots progressive movement for social and economic justice and the political empowerment of Asian and Pacific Islander women and girls. NAPAWF unites our diverse communities through organizing, education, and advocacy. Please check our Seattle Chapter website at www.napawf.org for more information. If you would like to get involved in NAPAWF, send us an email, [email protected] or sign up for our list serve [email protected] to receive up to date information about meetings, events, and postings. Our mailing address is NAPAWF Seattle Chapter P.O. Box 14115, Seattle, WA 98104