Posted by: Katie Gorodetsky, WIC Immunization Coordinator
Domestic violence is a serious public health issue that affects millions of people in America. Closer to home, nearly one in three women in Massachusetts report experiencing domestic violence at some point in their lives. But domestic violence is more than physical abuse – it’s defined as a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviors and tactics used by one person over another to gain power and control. This may include verbal, financial, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. Domestic violence occurs in heterosexual, as well as same-sex partnerships, and crosses all ethnic, racial and socio-economic lines. Domestic violence includes a wide range of behaviors in which one individual is using power and control to manipulate another individual, and it’s important to be able to recognize abuse and to seek help.
There are many terms that can be used to describe domestic violence/partner abuse, but it is important to remember that domestic violence is a pattern of controlling behavior, not just one single act. Arguments, disagreements, and their resolution are a normal part of healthy, respectful and equal relationships. But violence and abuse – or even the threat of violence and abuse – is not. When the term “domestic dispute” is used to describe domestic violence/partner abuse, responsibility is shifted from the perpetrator to both parties involved. It’s never acceptable when one person tries to control the thoughts, beliefs, or actions of a partner, friend, or any other person close to them.
Domestic violence/partner abuse is a deep seated, complex societal and personal issue. To make a difference as an individual, learn about the issue so you can support someone you know who is experiencing domestic violence and be committed to taking a stand against violence and abuse. Get involved by joining local and community efforts to bring the issue to the forefront, and push for societal change. Check out the ways in which you can help. The Jane Doe website below has some ways in which you can get involved. You can also learn more about domestic violence through the Department of Public Health’s web site: www.mass.gov/dph/violence
If you know someone who is or may be a victim of domestic violence/partner abuse, please visit http://www.janedoe.org/ or http://www.mass.gov/eopss/crime-prev-personal-sfty/personal-sfty/sexual-and-dom-viol/