Domestic Violence Awareness

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Domestic Violence Awareness

Brianna DuMont

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Domestic Abuse is a hard topic, and one that is often thought to include only male to female violence. The stigma that domestic violence is only male to female is a large one, and it is damaging to the cases that don’t fit in that category. As a result, these less-recognized incidents of domestic violence, such as female to male, female to female, and male to male are typically marginalized. The fear of judgment is often greater and leads to fewer people speaking out about the topic. While domestic violence groups work hard to bring light to these dark subjects, they often fail to highlight male abuse and LGBTQ+ abuse. Even the organization in our own school, MVP, focuses mainly on male to female abuse, which is understandable as it is still a new program at WSHS. However, this is the case in many schools and public organizations. While it is important to recognize and prevent male to female abuse, it often negatively affects these other incidents and victims as a result.

The majority of male victims are more reluctant to report abuse, partly because it is less recognized as “real” domestic violence, and partly because of stereotypes of masculinity. Men are accused of “allowing” themselves to be abused, and often times they fear ridicule from friends, coworkers, and family. According to statistics gathered by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “…more than 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” This is 28.5% of the male population in our county; however, you rarely hear about it on the news. Their stories are often made to seem unimportant, and this affects men who want to get out of abusive relationships or those that don’t even know that they’re in one.

It has also been found that female abusers are able to avoid arrest easier than male abusers, which can be due to females being able to claim self-defense, or this form of abuse simply not being taken seriously. There is also the issue of law enforcement being biased about domestic violence towards men. In some cases, if police go to the scene of female to male abuse, the female will claim that she was protecting herself by playing the victim, and they will believe her most times. This is because of how much male to female is pushed to the forefront of domestic violence, in most cases, it’s easier for the female to get away with it than men.

There is another portion of the population that is shrouded in more darkness than the rest because of the fear of the effect it will have on the community. It has been shown in studies done by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs and National Center for Victims of Crime, that partner violence occurs in LGBTQ+ relationships at the same rate as in heterosexual relationships, which is in approximately 25-33% of all relationships. These two programs have teamed up to produce multiple reports on domestic abuse in general, and more specifically, LGBTQ+ abuse. They found that, “criminal justice personnel and victim assistance providers often underestimate the physical danger involved in same-sex relationship abuse, or fail to recognize that a physically smaller partner may be the perpetrator.” This leads to victims possibly being doubted when they try to report the abuse, and concerns being minimized. It also states that mainstream victim services and agencies might contribute to the bias with their lack of inclusive language, or with their program name. The report says that a name such as “The Women’s Safeplace” might prevent men, transgender persons, or even lesbian and bisexual women from seeking help from the service.

The LGBTQ+ community already faces a lot of judgement. By shedding light on the domestic abuse that occurs in some same-sex relationships, they fear it will give those who are against them more “evidence” that their relationships are morally wrong. It is also often hard for those being abused to seek support from their family members if the family disapproves of the relationship or their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Even though the abuse happens in every other form of relationship, those who are abused by same-sex partners fear more ridicule than those who are in typical heterosexual relationships. It is harder for those in abusive same-sex relationships because there is so little information on these relationships pushed out to the public. They aren’t always aware that they are in an abusive relationship, and don’t know how to get out of it easily.

While these forms of abuse affect people of all ages, these relationships can be especially difficult for teens. There is typically little education on these forms of domestic abuse in high schools, which causes teens to be more susceptible to domestic abuse in general, especially same-sex and female to male abuse. Not only are guys expected to be “tough” and able to take care of themselves, but they also fear being bullied by their friends. The National Domestic Violence Hotline stated: “…9.4% of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend…” While this percentage includes male and female victims, the hotline also reported: “More than a quarter of male victims of completed rape (28%) were first raped when they were 10-years-old or younger…” Another report, by Forge, a program that helps transgender persons and male abuse victims, stated that one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.

While here at WSHS you are able to go talk to guidance counselors at almost any time, not every school has that advantage, and even still those being abused may feel too embarrassed.

The same issue occurs to high schoolers in same-sex relationships who are being abused. In most public schools, the bullying of members of the LGBTQ+ community has been cut down; however, there is still a certain amount of unawareness surrounding domestic abuse issues within it. It has been estimated that one out of every four LGBTQ+ teen/youth will experience some type of abuse from a partner according to The Network/La Red. This organization is led by survivors of abuse and was established in Boston, Massachusetts. They work to educate those in the community about abuse, what it is, and how to prevent it or get out of an abusive relationship. They offer free hot-line services, as well as information on safe homes, support groups, and how to help those who are in abusive relationships.

The bias surrounding same-sex relationships can cause teens to not recognize when they are in abusive relationships, and they may have little knowledge on the topic. While the information taught about heterosexual relationships in schools can help anyone in an abusive relationship, it doesn’t always cover specific details about same-sex relationships. Only four states in the U.S and District of Columbia require that LGBTQ+ specific content is included in school sex education. This lack of education can allow for the persistence of myths that men can’t be victims of partner violence and women can’t be violent to their partners.

Education is vital in this age of rumors and myths spreading faster with the help of the internet, and those using the internet to spread false information about these topics. Without awareness of all forms of domestic abuse, victims will continue to be pushed to the side by those who deem them less important. Domestic abuse, in general, is still a topic that needs to be expanded and taught about in schools and to the public; however, these lesser-known topics need to be given the same amount of attention and effort as male to female abuse.

Victims of female to male abuse are valid. Victims of female to female abuse are valid. Victims of male to male abuse are valid. Any victim of domestic abuse is valid, and we need to educate anyone and everyone who thinks otherwise.