Domestic violence awareness
Lisa Wallace, Human Development Specialist, Henry County, University of Missouri Extension
October 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 violence touches every person in our community and society as a whole; and 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, MU Extension human development specialist, “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 stomach aches 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.
MU Extension teaches divorce education and co-parenting classes. 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, check out the MU Extension publication Domestic Violence and Divorce (GH6608).
Last Updated 10/12/2015