Abuse is all too prevalent

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The last column I wrote about my friend Barbara who was physically and mentally abused and finally killed by her husband. She left her husband but many don’t. People always ask, “Why do they stay with those husbands? Why don’t they just leave?”

The answer is they are terrified to leave and with good cause. Statistics show that women are in greater danger when they are trying to leave a battering spouse. Homicides often occur after the woman has left her spouse. Here are some statistics to consider:

* A woman is physically assaulted within her home every nine seconds. Nearly six million women will be battered in a single year.

* Battery is the single major cause of injury to women.

* Some 2,000 to 4,000 women are beaten to death annually.

* Battering is not caused by stress, unemployment, addiction, poor impulse control or childhood victimization. It is a behavioral choice made by one partner to control the other partner.

* Sixty-six percent of American women will be beaten at least once during their marriage.

* Domestic violence occurs in all races and socio-economic backgrounds.

* Domestic violence is the cause of 30 percent of physical disabilities in women.

* Domestic Violence occurs in 60 percent of marriages.

* 60 percent of women murdered are murdered by their intimate partner.

* Domestic violence is repetitive in nature.

* 25 to 45 percent of battered women are battered during pregnancy.

* 90 percent of battered women reported that their children were present when they were beaten.

* 64 percent of hospitalized female psychiatric patients have a history of being physically abused as an adult.

* 63 percent of boys age 11-20 who commit homicide, murder the man who was abusing their mother.

* Domestic violence costs an estimated $1.4 billion annually in medical bills and an additional $900 million in mental health treatment.

* Domestic Violence is responsible for a $3 to 5 billion loss each year for employers due to absenteeism.

* The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that only 10 percent of domestic assaults are reported.

These are staggering statistics. Abusers are very shrewd in their manipulations. They usually separate the abused from almost all contact with family and friends. They brainwash their victims so they think they are incompetent to do anything on their own and make them believe they are worthless. Then the physical abuse begins that scares them to death of the abuser.

After this point in the relationship, something powerful has to happen to give that person courage to leave their situation because the person feels trapped and alone. But there is help if you are in an abusive relationship.

If you are in this type of situation or know someone who is, there is help. The National Domestic Abuse Hotline is 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). Help is available to callers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Hotline advocates are available for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Assistance is available in English and Spanish with access to more than 170 languages through interpreter services.

If you or someone you know is frightened about something in your relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

Sylvia Hughes is a retired newspaper editor and a regular contributor to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. She can be reached via email at sylvia.hughes@r-cnews.com.