October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Learn the Signs of Domestic Violence and How You Can Get Help.
By Annamarya Scaccia
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence “can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.”
While domestic violence is rooted in power and control, the coercive behavior does not take one definitive shape. It is much more than physical, emotional, sexual and verbal abuse. From relentless criticism to constant monitoring under the guise of concern, domestic violence can take on many dangerous and even insidious forms.
And it can happen to any gender, any religion, any sexual orientation, any race, and any age. It can happen to marry couples, domestic partners, and those just dating. It can happen to any socioeconomic or educational class—behind closed doors of politicans or in the living rooms of blue collar workers.
It can happen to anyone because domestic violence knows no boundary.
To fight domestic violence—and ensure its end—it’s important to know the statistics, the signs, and where to get help. Read on to learn more.
The Numbers in Maryland
According to a 2006-2010 report from the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention (GOOP), 17,931 domestic violence crimes were reported in the state in 2010, an 18.4 percent decrease from 2006, which saw 21,965. Of those crimes reported, 75 percent of victims were female, and 59 percent were between the ages of 25 and 44.
Domestic violence-related homicide rates also decreased 30.7 percent in this four-year period: from 26 in 2006 to 18 in 2010.
Additionally, states the report, 80 percent of Maryland’s domestic violence victims live with their abuser. Female spouses represent 26.5 percent of victims, male spouses represent 11.9 percent, and male cohabitants represent 14 percent. Female cohabitants, however, represent the most victimized by domestic abuse at 45.6 percent, according to the GOOP.
The five state jurisdictions with the highest per capita domestic violence crime rate per 100,000 are: Baltimore County (614.4), Worcester County (572.1), St. Mary’s County (535), Baltimore County (508.9), and Wicomico County (507.5).
The Numbers Nationwide
According to a National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) national fact sheet, 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women, with an estimated 1.3 million women experiencing physical domestic abuse by an intimate partner each year—although, notes the organization, domestic violence is “one of the most chronically underreported crimes.” While more than half of victims are between 25-44 years of age in Maryland, NCADV states that, nationally, women at greater risk of intimate partner violence fall between 20- and 24-years-old.
More harrowing, a history of physical abuse between a man and a woman, where the woman is the victim, has been found in 70 to 80 percent of intimate partner homicides, despite which partner was murdered. As for injury, less than one-fifth of domestic violence victims sought medical attention following abuse.
The Many Masks of Abuse
Do you believe you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship? Review the list outlining the different victimizing behaviors based on information from the Lanham-based Maryland Network Against Domestic Violenceand National Domestic Violence Hotline:
- Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, pushing, choking, kicking, damaging property, hurting your children, using weapons to hurt
- Verbal Abuse: Using degrading names, constant criticism and insults, yelling, humiliation
- Sexual Abuse: Forces sex when unwanted, demands sex when unwanted or after beating victim, ignoring feelings regarding sex, manipulating victim into performing sexual acts, sexual insults, accusing victim of cheating, exhibiting jealously
- Isolation: Trapping you in your home, keeping you from leaving, keeping you from friends and family
- Coercion: Manipulating through use of guilt, expecting victim to always ask for permission
- Harassment: Stalking, following, embarrassing victim in public, constant checking in, refusing to leave when asked, monitoring who the victim contacts or spends time with
- Economic Control: Controls finances, refuses to share money, refuses to pay bills, doesn’t want you to work, interfering with victim’s job, prohibiting victim from going to school or learning new skills
- Threats and Intimidation: Threatens to hurt victim or victim’s children, using weapons in a threatening manner
- Abusing Trust: Acts overly jealous or possessive, doesn’t trust victim
- Emotional Withholding: Punishes by withholding feelings and affections
- Self-Destructive Behaviors: Scare tactics by driving recklessly, threatening self-harm or suicide, deliberately acting in ways that cause trouble
If you are or believe you may be a victim of domestic violence, the following organizations offer services that can help you find safety and support. If you know someone who may be in an abusive relationship, click here.
Family Crisis Center of Prince George’s County (Family Crisis Center)
3601 Taylor Street, Brentwood, MD 20722; 24-Hour Hotline: 301-731-1203; General Line: 301-779-2100
Operating since 1981, the Family Crisis Center is Prince George’s County’s only safe house for domestic violence victims, and primary service provider to county families experience domestic abuse. The non-profit provides the following services: crisis intervention, emergency shelter, counseling for victims, children, and abusers, a safe visitation center, community education, legal information and representation, and an anger management program.
3001 Hospital Drive, Cheverly, MD 20785; 24-Hour Hotline: 301-618-3154 or 301-618-3162
The center, which operates 24/7 and trains medical staff to ensure a compassionate and effective domestic violence response, offers the following services for both domestic and sexual violence: crisis intervention, crisis and follow-up counseling, forensic exams, community education, safety planning, danger assessment, referral services, and victim advocacy.
In addition to emergency shelter and counseling, House of Ruth Maryland, located in Baltimore, provides legal assistance to domestic violence victims. The organization has three legal offices in Prince George’s County:
- Prince George’s County Main Office: The Baxter Center for Family Safety and Support, P.O. Box 697, Beltsville, MD 20704; 240-450-3270 (call for street address)
- Upper Marlboro Courthouse: Room 155 Courthouse, 14735 Main Street, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772; 301-952-4303
- Hyattsville Courthouse: 4990 Rhode Island Ave., Hyattsville, MD 20781; 301-985-3588
For other domestic violence programs in Maryland, click here.
If you or someone you is a victim of domestic violence, please call Family Crisis Center’s 24-hr hotline, 866-382-7474 or 301-731-1203, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault 24-hr hotline, 301-618-3154 or House of Ruth’s 24-hr hotline, 410-889-RUTH (7884).]Published on Prince George’s Suite – Friday, October 12, 2012