Today I attended a conference about intimate partner violence (IPV), or domestic violence (DV). It was the 10th anniversary celebration of some sorts. I don't work directly in the field but my work partners with the folks who do the work.
Why am I writing this post on the Kimchi Mamas blog? First because it's near and dear to my heart and second because Korean women (and their children, wives of Korean men, women of all color, and even some men) continue to be victims of intimate partner violence. I want to do my part to help it stop.
I learned today that IPV is complicated. I knew that but I think I still had some amount of judgement deep within me. It really is not as simple as "Why don't you just leave?"
The facts are that most women do end abusive relationships. It takes an average of 5 - 7 years and many attempts before she leaves, but still, she does leave. These women are resilient and should be commended for their resiliency.
I also learned that children who witness domestic violence can be scarred for life. I mean, I kind of knew that from personal experience. The worst thing that my dad did was get a knife from the kitchen and threaten to kill my mom and us. I think I partially blocked this from memory but I remember that knife vividly. I was very young. What I didn't know is that children's brain development can actually be affected by witnessing IPV and that they can get post traumatic stress disorder as well. And most of us probably also know that there is a cycle of violence. Children from violent homes grow up to either become abusers or victims themselves.
At the conference today, one of the speakers shared a training video that all police officers have to watch. They were pictures and voice recordings of actual victims. As soon as they started playing the 911 calls from children, I had to leave the room because I could not control my emotions. As a mom, it just hit a nerve that never was there before.
I learned from the same speaker that the justice system is also changing and learning from their past mistakes. Many women are afraid to call the police because they think that CPS will take their kids away. I was relieved to learn that they are working on this and trying not to further victimize the victim.
The good news is that violence is preventable. Increasingly, IPV is being looked at as a health issue as the risk to a person's life, health, and well being are very real.
Did you know that those who experience domestic violence have a harder time controlling their asthma?
Did you know that women who experience childhood sexual abuse have major psychological barriers to losing weight?
So, does your partner...
- hit, shove, slap, kick, punch, or choke you?
- threaten to hurt or kill you?
- call you names or tell you that you’re crazy?
- criticize things you do and say, or criticize how you look?
- hurt your pets or destroy things special to you?
- blame you for the abuse he or she commits? or blame the alcohol?
- limit where you can go, what you can do, and who you can talk to?
- unexpectedly check up on you at your workplace, home, school, or elsewhere?
- force you to have sex against your will?
- apologize and tell you it will never happen again (even though it already has)?
- mess with your birth control or refuse to wear a condom?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship. There is help. Please reach out. You are not alone.
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit ndvh.org.