Focusing on intimate partner violence

Published 11:03 am Monday, October 3, 2016

More than one in three women and more than one in four men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Seventy-four percent of all murder-suicides involved an intimate partner (spouse, common-law spouse, ex-spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend). Of these, 96 percent were women killed by their intimate partners.

One in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. Interpersonal violence is the leading cause of female homicides and injury-related deaths during pregnancy. The percentage of women who consider their mental health to be poor is almost three times higher among women with a history of violence than among those without. Women with disabilities have a 40 percent greater risk of intimate partner violence, especially severe violence, than women without disabilities.

Support is available for those in an intimate partner violence situation. Connect with supportive and caring people, not those who might blame you for the abuse. Secure a restraining or protective order if necessary — it prohibits an individual from harassing, threatening, approaching, accosting, or even contacting you and always keep it with you. Seek help from a psychologist or other licensed mental health provider; contact your doctor or other primary health care provider; engage the services at centers or shelters for battered women.

Also consider these ideas for safety planning:

— Identify your partner’s use and level of force so that you can tell when you and your children are in danger before it occurs.

— Identify safe areas of the house where there are no weapons (e.g., not the kitchen) and there are ways to escape. If arguments begin, try to move to one of those areas.

— If violence occurs, make yourself a small target — dive into a corner and curl up into a ball, with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.

— If possible, have a phone handy at all times and know what numbers to call for help.

— Don’t be afraid to call the police.

— Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation, and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help.

— Pack a bag (include money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra clothes and medicines) and leave it in a safe place or with someone you trust.

— Teach your children how to get help. Instruct them not to get involved in the violence between you and your partner. Plan a code word to signal to them that they should get help or leave the house.

— Practice how to get out safely. Practice with your children.

—Call a domestic violence hotline periodically to assess your options and get support and understanding.

For more information or help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799 SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD).

The Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations and home health care. For more information on all of our services, call 744-4482 or visit the website at www.clarkhealthdept.org.