By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS
Every 15 seconds, another victim of an abusive relationship is battered, according to the Web site WomensLaw.org. This isn’t even counting the seconds in between, ones that may contain psychological, economic or emotional abuse.
Domestic violence is so widespread and frequently so subtle, said Mesa Counselor Dave Crane, that often victims do not even know they are being abused.
“If they’ve been controlled and abused for a while, they may think it’s normal,” Crane said. “We also have cultural issues, control issues and, if combined with alcohol and substance abuse, it exacerbates the problem.
“A sure sign is control issues,” Crane said. “Some are more obvious than others, but if a woman or man feels extremely controlled, that may be an indication.”
Although men do make up a factor of those who are abused, women are the victims in 95 percent of the cases, according to the site WomensLaw.org.
The site continues, stating more than half of all women in an intimate relationship will experience physical violence and about 30 percent of those women will be battered on a regular basis.
An average of at least two cases of possible domestic violence is reported per week at the Tucumcari Police Department.
“There’s a lot of domestic violence in Quay County,” Crane said, “and about 50 percent of the time it goes unreported.”
So what can a person do who feels he or she is being abused?
“The first step is get with a mental health professional trained in abuse, take some steps to set boundaries, talk to the people at domestic violence,” Crane said. “The better the support group, the easier it is to make arrangements for better living conditions.”
Crane said part of the first step is to get a second opinion on the matter, perhaps seek couple’s counseling if the situation is not too far gone.
A second step would be to report the abuse to the police, Crane said, adding the third step may involve a restraining order.
“I don’t want people to jump to step three,” Crane said, “when they could have worked out something earlier. The most important thing is the awareness. The more people that are aware this is a problem, the more reporting (to police) that gets done, the more people can be helped.”
With October designated as Domestic Violence Awareness month and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), it appears the awareness is spreading.
The VAWA of 2000 lapsed on Sept. 30 and the U.S. Senate has already passed an enhanced act; the vote now goes to Congress.
According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence Web site, the VAWA programs have improved the criminal justice system’s response to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, providing increased training for police, prosecutors and court officials while providing victims with support service, hotlines and emergency shelter.
“Everyone should be aware of this terrible social problem that wrecks the lives of too many New Mexicans,” said U.S. Sen. Pete Dominici, R-N.M. “It is my hope that more people will become aware of the warning signs and the resources available to help victims escape their abusers.”
Where to seek help:
National Domestic Violence Hotline:
or (TTY) (800) 787-3224
Women’s Law site: www.WomensLaw.org
with national links at www.womenslaw.org/natl_links.htm
National Coalition against Domestic Violence: www.ncadv.org
with New Mexico specific info. at www.nmcadv.org
In Quay County:
Domestic Violence Program
300 S. Third St. (basement of courthouse)
Mesa Counseling, youth and adults
Raindancers Youth Services, Inc., youth only
Teambuilders Counseling Services, youth only
Mental Health Resources and Alcoholism Services, adults only
How to spot abuse:
An abuser will:
- Embarrass or make fun the other in front of friends or family.
- Put down the other’s accomplishments or goals.
- Make the person feel like they are unable to make decisions.
- Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance.
- Tell the other that they are nothing without them.
- Treat the other partner roughly — grab, push, pinch, shove or hit.
- Call several times a night or show up to make sure the person is where they said they’d be.
- Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or being abusive.
- Blame the person for how they feel or act.
- Pressure the person sexually for things they aren’t ready for.
- Make the partner feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship.
- Prevent the person from doing things they want — like spending time with friends or family.
- Try to keep the person from leaving after a fight or leave them somewhere after a fight to “teach a lesson.”
A victim will:
- Sometimes feel scared of how their partner will act.
- Constantly make excuses to other people for their partner’s behavior.
- Believe that they can help their partner change if only they changed something about themselves.
- Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make their partner angry.
- Always do what their partner wants instead of what they want.
- Stay with their partner because they are afraid of what their partner would do if they broke-up.
If any of these are happening in a relationship, the Women’s Law Web site said to talk to someone. The site said without some help, the abuse will continue.