Monday, March 10, 2008

Are You Afraid? Domestic Violence in Ohio

Elizabeth A. Delon

Nearly 21-thousand Ohioans each year become victims of it…

Almost 72-thousand calls where made to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation in 2006 because of it...

And… about 43% of the time it's between spouses or live-in partners.

So what is the problem and why are so many people quiet about it? The issue is domestic violence and statistics tell how prevalent the violence is in Ohio.

What is Domestic Violence:
Abuse is not only physical and it's not only between couples. Occasional arguments do not define domestic violence, but constant abuse of power between people does.

In many cases, abusers verbally critique, threaten and intimidate the victim. Romantic relationships are the most common place for these abusive disputes, but are not the only place it happens. Domestic Violence also happens in the relationships among family members and friends.

Although most people believe physical violence is the only issue with domestic violence, it is not the most common. Verbal abuse is most commonly used among couples. Verbal attacks often lead to mental distress of both partners. Physical violence is normally the end result of months or years of intimidation and control.

According to The American Medical Association abuse between couples is a large public health issue. The association also says the best way to prevent family and intimate violence is by individually and collectively, working with interested people to prevent violence and address the needs of victims.

Rick Olexa, APD Investigator describes a police perspective of domestic violence issues.

Who is Affected:
The number of women affected by domestic violence is higher than the number of men, but both genders can be victims of abuse.

Amanda Childress, OU Health Promotions Director speaks about domestic violence affecting men and women.

While most cases of domestic violence are reported among partners living together, there are some reported incidents of domestic violence on college campuses. This violence is the most often neglected. Students may feel too embarrassed or nervous to seek help. Some even fear they are at fault for their significant other’s violent actions. Violent acts within a relationship are also known to spark depression for the victim.

The Ohio University Health Promotions Office helps students who have fallen victim to this type of abuse. Amanda Childress, the Assistant Director of Health Promotions says, “if you think you see signs of one of your friends may be suffering from domestic violence try to help them and tell them there are ways to get help.”

Warning Signs:
There are many signs that make people aware of domestic violence. Among these signs, the most significant is fear of your partner. Dominance, threats, intimidation, guilt, unpredictable tempers, helplessness, jealousy and possessiveness also are possible warnings of an abusive relationship.

To determine whether your relationship is abusive, ask yourself if you feel the above warning signs describe your relationship. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you may be involved in an abusive relationship. These warning signs are only a starting point, but can lead people to better understanding their relationships issues.

Childress says people need to pay attention to the warning signs and seek assistance as soon as possible.

Getting Help:
According to the Southeast Ohio State Legal Services Association victims of domestic violence and stalking have the right to get a protection order demanding that the person harassing or abusing them stop doing so or be punished by the court. Molly Burchfield, a social worker, says there are many places people can go for help and taking action seems to help the majority of victims.

People who believe they are victims of domestic violence can take several steps to prevent future violence. Filling out domestic violence forms can be the first step when contacting the police.

Social Worker Molly Burchfield explains the legal process with domestic violence.

Officer Rick Olexa, an Athens Police Department Investigator says, “Don't hesitate to call to let us know if there's a fight going next door or something that you feel someone needs to be kept safe to contact us.”

If you or someone you know may be suffering from domestic violence here are services for more information and assistance:

Ohio Domestic Violence Network Hot line: 1-800-934-9840
Edna Brooks Foundation: 740-594-8337
My Sister’s Place: 1-800-443-3402
Prosecutor’s Victim Assistance: 740-592-3212
Southeastern Ohio Legal Services: 1-800-686-3669
Hudson Health Center Counseling: 740- 593-1616
Ohio University Women's Center: 740-593-9625

To view more statistics of domestic violence view the 2006 Ohio reports click here:
2006 Domestic Violence Report

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