EVERYONE KNOWS SOMEONE WHO…
“One of these days he’s going to kill me.” The caller seemed resigned to her fate. The Artemis Center advocate who answered the Domestic Violence Hotline assessed the level of immediate risk and made a safety plan with the victim. Calls of this kind are everyday occurrences at Artemis Center.
Just about everyone knows someone who has been a victim of domestic violence. Research shows that one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. This widespread issue does not discriminate. It cuts across all races, religions, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. It may be your co-worker, neighbor, friend, or even a family member. Most commonly victims are female, but occasionally a male is victimized. Domestic violence is EVERYONE’S problem.
WHY DOESN’T SHE JUST LEAVE?
Regardless of the degree of abuse, it is never easy to leave these relationships. Although abusers may be controlling and verbally abusive early on, most abusers do not become physically abusive until they are certain the victim is emotionally invested in the relationship. Many victims tell Artemis advocates that their partner never hit them until: they got engaged, or the honeymoon, or she was pregnant with their first or second child, or after their child was born.
For various reasons, some victims will never leave their abusers. However, most victims leave eventually. Before she leaves, there are many questions a victim must consider: How can I support my children and keep them safe? Where can we go? Can we stay in the same school district? Can we go to the same house of worship?
Protecting the children is often of paramount concern. Research has shown that in many households where there is domestic violence, there is also child abuse. When the abuser is a threat to the children, the victim has to consider whether the children will be safe if she and the abuser separate and will the abuser get parenting time alone with the children.
Once the abuser learns that the victim is leaving the relationship the violence may escalate. This phenomenon is called “Separation Danger.” The risk to the victim can increase significantly during separation and for a while afterwards. Research has shown that 75% of domestic violence homicides occurred during or shortly after the victims attempted to leave. The victim has to consider: What will happen to the children if something happens to me?
Even after a victim leaves the abuser, she often remains at risk. The typical abuser feels entitled to continue to abuse the victim because he tells himself: “This relationship isn’t over until I say it is over.”
ARTEMIS CENTER CAN HELP
Fortunately, Artemis Center advocates can help domestic violence victims and their children get safe. Artemis advocates can answer the many questions and concerns victims have and suggest options. The Domestic Violence Hotline is operated collaboratively by Artemis Center and the battered women’s shelter. Victims can call the Hotline 24 hours a day seven days a week. Artemis advocates answer the Hotline weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
For many victims, calling the Domestic Violence Hotline is their first step to safety. Whether a victim intends to stay with the abuser or leave the relationship, an Artemis advocate will work one-on-one with him or her and serve as a source of support. The advocates help victims understand that they have a right to be safe; that they are not alone; and that they have options to help them get safe and protect their children. Artemis advocates can connect victims to community resources, assist victims with obtaining Protection Orders and accompany victims to court. In addition, Artemis offers weekly support groups so that victims can support and learn from each other. All Artemis Center services are confidential and free of charge.
YOU CAN HELP
If you know someone who is living with abuse, encourage him or her to call the Domestic Violence Hotline to discuss their relationship and get help with safety planning. If you know someone with a child that is acting out as a result of witnessing abuse, encourage the parent to contact the Artemis Child Therapy Program. An Artemis child therapist can answer parents’ questions and help children process the abuse and learn healthy ways to resolve family conflicts.
You can help victims indirectly, as well, by attending the Artemis Gala on February 23rd or another Artemis fundraiser. Or you can simply make a donation to Artemis Center. Artemis has a food pantry and a small fund to help victims pay for getting their locks changed and other relatively inexpensive safety measures.
Domestic violence is complicated. Most people do not understand why a victim would stay in an abusive situation or the seriousness of the risk. Often, victims cannot leave their abusers without outside support, resources, and the confidence to make a new life. With your help, Artemis Center can help victims by providing support and resources and helping victims build the confidence they need to get safe and keep their children safe.
(Submitted by The Artemis Center)
Mardi Gras Artemis Gala 2013
On Saturday February 23 at 6:30pm, The Artemis Center will be holding their big Mardi Gras Artemis Gala at the Schuster Center Winter Garden with all funds raised at this signature event directly benefit local victims of Domestic Violence and help to ensure that Artemis Center can continue to provide all services free of charge. Tickets are $125 (table of 8 for $1,000) with raffle tickets going for $25. Click here for tickets and more information.