This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Let’s get something straight: Violence isn’t OK. Making threats to harm a partner or family member, or using threats to harm yourself as a means to manipulate them, isn’t OK. Using violence or perceived violence to control what someone else does isn’t OK. It’s especially not OK to use love as a justification to be violent towards another person. It’s up to everyone to help stop domestic violence. Don’t support, encourage or condone violence when you see it. If you can do so safely, report domestic violence.
In many cases, outsiders wonder why people who are abused don’t just leave. Often, people who are battered or abused don’t see themselves as victims. They’re conditioned to believe the way they’re being treated is “normal” or, worse yet, the abuse is their fault and they deserve what’s happening to them. In reality, it’s not “normal” to make lewd comments, to behave aggressively, or to coerce vulnerable individuals through acts or threats of violence. NO ONE deserves to be hit, beaten, battered, threatened, or manipulated.
People who are abused can be caught in a cycle, where tension builds in the relationship until the abuser acts out and perpetrates violence. This is followed by the abuser apologizing and promising to change. Then, there’s a period of relative calm, before the cycle starts over. Victims of abuse often believe their abuser when they tell them it’s the “last time.” Other times, the victim is forced to stay for other reasons, like financial support. Sometimes, victims stay because they’re afraid of what may happen when she or he leaves, especially if the perpetrator has made threats against the victim’s loved ones. It’s important for friends or family of victims to help provide the support needed to see the abuse and leave the destructive pattern.
Fear is common among those who are abused, and for this reason, many incidents of domestic violence are never brought to light, leading to prolonged suffering and isolation for the victims. People who are victims of violence and abuse need to know there’s help for them. Here in Carson City, those who are in abusive situations can come to Carson City Human Services, or can contact Advocates to End Domestic Violence. Advocates’ Director, Lisa Lee, says the shelter in Carson City is the largest in Northern Nevada with 51 beds. Victims of violence can seek refuge there for up to 5 months to escape a bad situation, and caring staff and counselors will help victims find support and resources. Volunteers who wish to help can also contact the shelter for opportunities to be involved.
For advocacy, counseling or referrals, call the Nevada Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-500-1556 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). Advocates to End Domestic Violence can be reached on the web at www.aedv.org or by phone at 883-7654.
For more information about other Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.