Some information to help you be a resource to support victims of violence in our community.
- 5 Myths of Domestic Violence.
- Understanding Trafficking
- Learn the impact of Trauma for victims
- Why doesn't she just leave?!
MYTH #1: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AFFECTS ONLY A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF THE POPULATION AND IS RARE.
FACT: National studies estimate that 3 to 4 million women are beaten each year in our country. A study conducted in 1995 found that 31% of women surveyed admitted to having been physically assaulted by a husband or boyfriend. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in our country, and the FBI estimates that a woman is beaten every 15 seconds. Thirty percent of female homicide victims are killed by partners or ex-partners and 1,500 women are murdered as a result of domestic violence each year in the United States.
MYTH #2: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OCCURS ONLY IN POOR, UNEDUCATED AND MINORITY FAMILIES.
FACT: Studies of domestic violence consistently have found that battering occurs among all types of families, regardless of income, profession, region, ethnicity, educational level or race. However, the fact that lower income victims and abusers are over-represented in calls to police, battered women’s shelters and social services may be due to a lack of other resources.
MYTH #3: THE REAL PROBLEM IS COUPLES WHO ASSAULT EACH OTHER. WOMEN ARE JUST AS VIOLENT AS MEN.
FACT: A well-publicized study conducted by Dr. Murray Strauss at the University of New Hampshire found that women use violent means to resolve conflict in relationships as often as men. However, the study also concluded that when the context and consequences of an assault are measured, the majority of victims are women. The U.S. Department of Justice has found that 85% of the victims of spouse abuse are female. Men can be victims, but it is rare.
MYTH #4: ALCOHOL ABUSE CAUSES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
FACT: Although there is a high correlation between alcohol, or other substance abuse, and battering, it is not a causal relationship. Batterers use drinking as one of many excuses for their violence and as a way to place the responsibility for their violence elsewhere. Stopping the abusers’ drinking will not stop the violence. Both battering and substance abuse need to be addressed separately, as overlapping yet independent problems.
MYTH #5: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS USUALLY A ONE TIME, ISOLATED OCCURRENCE.
FACT: Battering is a pattern of coercion and control that one person exerts over another. Battering is not just one physical attack. It includes the repeated use of a number of tactics, including intimidation, threats, economic deprivation, isolation and psychological and sexual abuse. Physical violence is just one of these tactics. The various forms of abuse utilized by batterers help to maintain power and control over their spouses and partners.
For more information on understanding domestic violence please go to The National Domestic Violence Hotline.
The following essay by Tina Frundt, a resource from a past initiative of the Women’s Funding Network. For more information please go to their website:
By Tina Frundt
NOVEMBER 28, 2005
The pimps who are trafficking young women and girls on the street in the U.S. have a great marketing tool: the media
When we hear the words “sex trafficking,” as Americans we immediately think of women and children overseas who are being forced into the sex trade or who are brought into the United States for the purpose of sexual exploitation. We don’t usually think closer to home — Americans trafficked by Americans. But I want you to think about young women and even girls that you have seen late at night when you come home from work or a social event. Maybe you have seen them in the streets in short dresses and spike heels. You turn your heads to look away. We do not look at the faces of these young women and girls who are forced to be out in the street. Maybe we think this is what they want to do or they wouldn’t be out there. Maybe it is easier to believe that it is an empowering choice they have than face the harsh reality of child sexual abuse, physical and mental abuse, and the pimps that prey on the young women and girls.
To understand all aspects of sex trafficking in the United States, you have to open your mind and let go of what you have seen or heard on television. You need to let go of the media’s portrayal of the “joys” of street prostitution, and open your eyes to the violence and control the pimps and sex traffickers exercise over their victims, who are mostly girls and young women.
ECPAT USA (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes)’, an Anti-Trafficking agency, states that the average age of entry into street prostitution is between 12 and 14 years old, though there have been cases of girls as young as 9 years old.
I was 14 years old when I was forced into prostitution. Like many teens at that age, finding my own identity and defying my parents were top on my list. So when a man came into my life and showered me with attention and listened to me when I complained about my parents, I did not think twice that he was ten years my senior. After all, he said I was mature for my age and told me I understood him better than anyone his own age. Little did I know, he was laying down the seeds of manipulation. It did not matter what my parents said, to me they did not understand me and he was the only one that “got me”. After six months, I thought I loved him, at least that is what he told me, so I did what I thought my heart was telling me and ran away to be with him. We ended up in Cleveland, Ohio. He told me we were going to meet the rest of the family.
I had no idea the “family” meant myself and three other girls. After I was introduced to the “family,” I was told what my role would be. I would go out to “work” that night and bring him back the money. How else would we build our dream home? He assured me he would always love me no matter what, but he needed to know how much I loved him by making sure I would do anything for him.
Later that evening, his friends came by the motel. At first, he told me to have sex with someone. I did not want to so his friends raped me. Afterwards, he said “that wouldn’t have happened if I would have just listened to him at first.” I blamed myself instead of being angry at him for being raped. I was angry at myself for not listening to him in the first place. After that, he picked my clothes out, told me what to wear, what to say, how to walk, what to say to “Johns” and how much money I was to bring back to him. He then forced me to go out into the streets.
When I first went out into the streets, when I met my first John, I felt like this was something I did not want to do. I walked around the streets back and forth for hours. Finally, I got into a car because we were always being watched and I knew I had to get into a car sooner or later. Our quota was $500 and I had only made $50 that night to give back to the pimp. As a result, he beat me in front of the other girls to make an example out of me and then he made me go back out until I had made the money. This is the same man that took me out to eat, listened to me when I wanted to complain about my parents, gave me words of advice. I was now seeing a side of him that I never saw before — a brutal side where he repeatedly hit me in front of the other girls to teach us all a lesson.
Not only was I shocked, I was scared. What would happen to me if I did try to leave and who would believe me if I told them what was going on? I worked from 6 until 10 p.m. the next night without eating or sleeping. I came back with the $500, but in his mind I still had not learned my lesson. He sent me back outside until 5 a.m. the next morning. After the second day, he finally bought me something to eat, but as a punishment to learn never to defy him again, he locked me in the closet. Since that night, I was locked in the closet on numerous occasions and had my finger broken which never set right. None of us were ever allowed to see a doctor so we endured our pain by pushing it deep down inside and trying to forget it ever happened.
I can’t count the number of times people have asked me “why didn’t you just leave?” “Couldn’t you escape?” To that, I simply say “do you ask a child that is kidnapped why they didn’t try to leave?” No, we automatically say they are a victim; it wasn’t their fault. Now I know it was not my fault that a pimp manipulated a child. Under federal law, a child under 18 years who is commercially sexually abused is a victim of trafficking. However under local law a child is charged with child prostitution.
The pimps who are trafficking young women and girls on the street have a great marketing tool: the media. You can turn on the TV now and see pimps glamorized in TV shows, music videos, and movies. Young people use “pimp” in everyday conversation: “my ride is pimped out,” “your clothes are pimping.” They do not understand the reality behind the term.
Pimps prey on young women and girls by finding their weakness and then exploiting it. It is easier to manipulate children, and by the time children become adults, they are broken down and dependent on a pimp. After the pimp gets into your mind, it’s easy for him to maintain control, much like a domestic abuser. From then now on you have to call him “daddy” and he will punish you if he feels like you have stepped out of line. You are required to bring him $500-$2,000 every night. You are not a woman, you are always a “bitch” or a “ho” and are reminded of that daily. You are part of his “stable.” If you do not want to follow the rules, then he may sell you at anytime to another pimp.
Polaris Project, a non-profit anti-trafficking organization in Washington, DC, reported that a pimp who had three young women and girls in his “stable” were each were bringing back $500 every day. Do the math — the pimp was making about $24,000 a month or $642,000 a year tax free by selling sex with girls and young women he controlled and then keeping all the money.
In the dictionary, the definition of slavery is the “state of one bound in servitude.” If someone sells you to someone else, is that not slavery? If someone forces you to do things against your will and you are not allowed to leave, is that not slavery? Then I ask you why, when pimps traffic young women and girls on the streets of America, isn’t this a form of modern-day slavery?
What happened to me 15 years ago is still going on today. I now work as a Street Outreach Coordinator for Polaris Project, and I can see that it is not getting any better — it is only getting worse. We see girls and young women every night being forced onto the streets, beaten, and raped to make money for the pimps.
There are organizations all over the world that work with young women and girls helping them escape from trafficking situations, I urge you to learn how you can stop sex trafficking, in the United States and oversees. To stop the problem we have to understand and help make stronger laws to get these traffickers.
I hope that next time you see the young women and girls on the street, you will have more understanding of the reality of their situation. Now that you have the knowledge, what will you do with it?
Domestic violence and other lifetime trauma can have significant mental health consequences. Although symptoms often improve or abate with increased safety and social support, abuse may sometimes have longer-term health and mental health effects. The traumatic effects of abuse can impact an individual’s ability to access safety, heal from trauma, and pursue life goals. Additionally, living with mental health conditions or addiction increases a person’s risk of experiencing abuse in the future. Exposure to ongoing abuse can also exacerbate symptoms and affect recovery.
For more resources to support victims of domestic violence and trauma go to the National Center on Domestic Violence,Trauma and Mental Health. http://www.nationalcenterdvtraumamh.org
This video is a quick summary (and we mean quick) about how trauma affects the brain of a victim. It has a lot of good information about what a victim might go through and how substance abuse may factor into things.
Crash Course on Trauma
A commonly heard question when it comes to abuse is,
“Why doesn’t the victim just leave?”
It seems obvious (even simple?) enough—if your partner is abusive, why would you stay? No doubt, many who have never endured abuse have surely said to themselves at some point, “Well, if my partner ever hit me, I’d walk out that door and never look back.”
Unfortunately, separating from an abuser is often much more complicated than anyone—especially the survivor—realizes until they’re in the thick of it. Let’s start with the number one threat—homicide.
“The most important thing to know is that leaving is the most dangerous time for a woman. It’s the time when she’s most likely to be killed,” says Anna Marjavi, program manager with Futures Without Violence, a national nonprofit aimed at advocacy to end violence against women. Often times, abuse will escalate after a survivor leaves because abuse is based on a cycle of power and control. When an abuser feels he has lost control over his victim, he often uses violence as a way to coerce his partner to return, or as a form of retaliation for her leaving.
“The biggest factor [for not leaving] is fear,” says Marjavi. “A lot of women are threatened by their partner, who’ll say, ‘If you ever leave me, I’ll kill you,’ or ‘If you ever talk to anyone about what’s happening, I’ll kill you.’ They’re very intense threats.”
A DomesticShelters.org survey showed that survivors agree—the number one barrier survivors said they faced when trying to leave was threats from their abuser, with fear of retaliation coming in at a close second. Not only are survivors afraid for their own lives, but for their childrens’ lives as well.
An abusive partner may threaten to harm the children, a survivor’s extended family or pets if the woman leaves, says Marjavi. In fact, she says, some abusive partners will kill a family pet as a warning to prove the seriousness of their threats. “This is why it’s important for women to work with an advocate so they can leave in the safest way possible,” says Marjavi.
Another reason a survivor may stay with an abuser is because they find themselves financially dependent on the abuser. “Survivors may not have control of their own money, or even have a credit card,” says Marjavi. Without any financial resources, it may seem impossible to leave.
Marjavi also says that many people also don’t think about how a survivor believes that she really loves the abuser, in spite of what she’s enduring. “They [survivors] hate the behavior, but love the person and believe they can change.” This is where it can be frustrating for friends and relatives who try to help their loved one facing abuse. Those who haven’t experienced violence may not understand how strong the control is that the abuser has over his victim.
There are so many barriers to leaving, in fact, that a Harvard law professor and survivor penned a paper outlining 50 different reasons why a survivor might be trapped with an abuser.
Bottom line: It must be the survivor’s choice to leave. Providing a survivor with resources for help, such as shelters, advocacy groups and information about orders of protection, can be vital in convincing her that leaving is, indeed, a possibility. Find an advocate in your community that can help you with safety planning and options for the future by entering your ZIP code on the DomesticShelters.org home page.
Article by domesticshelters.org
“Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?
Many survivors with abusive partners are trapped out of fear”
September 03, 2014