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Feature Article


Domestic violence awareness


Purple ribbon for domestic violence awarenessOctober is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time for the community to come together and build awareness, and a movement towards safe and healthy relationships for all individuals and families. Domestic abuse violates a person’s dignity, safety and basic human rights.


There are four types of domestic violence: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and stalking. The abuser’s need for power and control is often woven through many domestic violence situations, regardless of the abuse.


The abuser typically wants to control their partner. Following a break-up or divorce, abusers may:


  • Use the couple’s children to control their partner
  • Threaten to take children away or use visitation as an opportunity to harass their ex-partners
  • Intimidate their partners by destroying property, showing partners their weapons or abusing pets


These actions intimidate and control partners until they are afraid to ask for help. Many abusers also isolate their partners from family and friends so they feel that there is nowhere to turn when they do decide to seek help.


According to Lisa Wallace, human development specialist for University of Missouri Extension, “Children raised in a home with domestic violence often experience distress.” Wallace suggests parents watch for the following signs of stress in their children:


  • Fear or anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Physical complaints such as stomachaches or headaches
  • Aggressive behavior such as biting, hitting or kicking, or defiant behavior
  • Delinquent behavior
  • Problems at school
  • Withdrawal or depression


Encourage your child to talk about his or her feelings. Seek support for you and your children.


Safety is the first priority in domestic violence situations. There are steps you can take to protect yourself and your children. For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). For more information and resources, go to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website at


MU Extension teaches divorce education and co-parenting classes, like Focus on Kids. Many parents in these classes deal with domestic violence issues. To find classes in your area, visit the MU Extension website or contact your local Extension office.


For more information on this topic, see the MU Extension publication GH6608 Domestic Violence and Custody Issues.


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Last Updated 10/17/2016