October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
In 2021 there were 539 law-enforcement reported incidents of domestic violence in Richland and Ashland counties. In that same year, the Ashland County Safe Haven responded to 945 victims. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence.
Victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life, varying age groups, all backgrounds, all communities, all education levels, all economic levels, all cultures, all ethnicities, all religions, all abilities, and all lifestyles. People who experience domestic violence do not bring violence upon themselves, Violence in relationships occurs when one person feels entitled to power and control over their partner and chooses to use-abuse to-gain-and-maintain that control.
In relationships where domestic violence exists, violence is not equal. Even if the victim fights back or instigates violence to diffuse a situation. There is always one person who is the primary, constant source of power, control, and abuse in the relationship. Perpetrators of abuse and domestic violence gain power and control over their victims in every way possible. They get to the point where they are controlling their victim’s finances, social network, where they work, and how they spend their time. Perpetrators also may monitor their victim’s cell phone and email communications as well as their internet activity.
Victims of domestic violence may fear cultural- or- community backlash for leaving. Feel like they have nowhere to go or ability to flee. Fear they will not-be-able-to-support themselves. Have children in common with the abuser and fear for the children’s safety if they leave. And can have pets they don't want to leave. It is important to believe and support victims.
Victims are often told by their perpetrators that there is something wrong with them. This leaves the victim feeling as though they don't deserve to be loved and treated well. The reality is we all are lovable, and we all deserve to be respected and cared for.
If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, reach out for help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or locally 419-289-8085.
-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCCS, Executive Director