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Domestic Violence Awareness
The Glass Sponge

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women in 1993. The document defined violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”

Twenty years later studies show violence is as common in same-sex relationships as it is in heterosexual ones. Preconceived notions about gender roles delayed awareness and acceptance of domestic violence in the LGBT community. Despite sexual orientation, 95% of intimate partner violence victims are women according to The US Department of Justice. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence puts the percentage of women victims at 84%. Although the percentage varies, domestic violence is color blind; women of every race are equally at risk.

Women are more likely to be killed by a current or former male partner and at least three women are murdered by their husbands or partners in the United States every day. Seventy-five percent are killed as they attempt to leave the relationship or after the relationship has ended.

Intimate partner violence against women around the world is equally, if not more horrifing. The following statistics are compiled from WHO and UN WOMEN

  1. In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents’.
  2. In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.
  3. In the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 66 percent of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.
  4. Approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.
  5. Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.3 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million). Violence and abuse characterize married life for many of these girls. Women who marry early are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife.
  6. In the United States, 83 percent of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.
  7. In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
  8. Studies suggest that one-fourth to one-third of the 170 million women and girls currently living in the European Union are subjected to male violence.
  9. 9. In 9 Latin American countries, a rapist who marries his victim stays out of jail. (Chiarotti, 2000)
  10. Studies suggest that one-fourth to one-third of the 170 million women and girls currently living in the European Union are subjected to male violence. (Logar, 2000)

In the United States, a woman leaves an abusive relationship an average of seven times before she leaves for good.  She turns to domestic violence shelters for help because it’s not safe to go to friends or family where she can be found. If she’s fortunate, she’ll find a shelter with a modern security system and detailed safety plans. The shelter will provide food, temporary housing, and work, daycare and relocation resources.

Please support your local domestic violence shelters. Your cousin, colleague, friend, sister, daughter, neighbor, co-worker, book club member or grandmother will need it someday. Maybe you've already stayed there. 

(Purchase a signed copy of The Glass Sponge in November and the author will donate 20% of the proceeds to The Harbor House Domestic Violence Shelter in Missouri.)  


6 Comment count
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Bravo, Jules

for compiling these horrible, but oh so necessary, statistics. I cringe every time I hear of a woman being granted a "protection from abuse" order, which, in the state of Maine at least, seems to infuriate the spouse even further, and the woman waves it like a shield as the spouse blasts her with a shotgun. 

Are there answers? Education. Speaking out. And there are always more questions...

Excellent piece. Thanks. ~M

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Hi, Mara

The statistics are horrible results of a complicated power and control system. Protection orders incite many men but not all men. Nobody reports on the protection orders that worked. We hear about the awful situations; the ones that didn't protect.  Victims of domestic violence need outside support to get out of the relationship because of complex socioeconomic and psychological reasons. The majority need the income and help a partner provides for their children. They don't want to lose friends and family connected to their partner and they're embarrased and ashamed. It's not uncommon for a women to feel she loses more for her family if they leave. It's an awful sheet to balance.   

Education and speaking out are huge factors in a solution. The questions birth other questions. How do we identify generational predictors? What are the best ways to stop the cycle? The message targets teenagers and adults but it needs to be stronger, and it needs to begin with kids in kindergarten. 

Thank you for commenting, Mara. It's wonderful to hear from you.


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Thanks, Jules ~

I wasn't aware of this month's significance.  I used to know about this month and its status.  In my military days, our television and radio networks would lay seige to us with reminders about months like Domestic Violence Awareness month.  Sad that such campaigns are needed. 

Outside of the military, I haven't seen many reminders that this is DVA month.  Maybe I'm in the wrong place.  While I applaud sports leagues like the NFL supporting Breast Cancer Awareness by wearing pink, what color is being worn to remind people of the horrible ways in which women are treated and the many murders men commit in the name of love?  As Mara said, we need education...speaking out.  Teach your children well....

~ M

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The military does an above average job of raising awareness of domestic violence. It's an issue there unfortunately.

Breast Cancer Awareness has overshadowed National Domestic Violence Awareness in October. Let's hope the football players wear purple shirts and shoes in October in the future. (They could alternate pink and purple or wear both.) There have been plenty of football players who've abused their wives or girlfriends. OJ being worse case scenario, case in point.

Thanks for contributing to this important discussion. It's nice to hear from you again!


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     When I asked my friend the social worker who works in the prisons how we can prevent non-stranger assault if the person is already in the house, he said "We can't. There are too many jerks out there.  We can't predict who the attacker will be."

     But then he said, "The moment someone denies your dignity, throw them out.  Men are trained to be violent.  Women are not.  Women have to learn to defend themselves, and to do so quickly."  And he repeated a sentence from another story, "'No' is a complete sentence."

    How do we retrain our daughters, prepare them to fight back if they need to?  How do we train our sons to respect women?

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Saying No

Hi, Marilyn.

Your friend painted a bleak and accurate rendition. Saying no can work, but asking a violent abuser to get out doesn't always work long term. It works temporarily when police arrest the abuser. Typically he's back in "his home" in a few days.  

Fighting back is effective if you truly know how to defend yourself and have a place to go afterwards; otherwise it can further enrage an abuser. Unfortunately a women who fights back may be viewed by police, friends and family as crazy because the  abuser convinces people she's the one with a problem.

Statistics show a woman who owns a gun and tries to use it against her attacker is more likely to be the one shot. Yet, women keep buying guns. Gun sales among women have increased dramatically in the last five years. We can't dispute the average man is genetically stronger than the average woman. Unless she's a confident, competent marksman, capable of defending herself against an aggresive male if the gun is taken away, a woman has to use her mind to find support and resources.

My sister is a Domestic Violence Probation officer. The Assistant Chief of her Domestic Violence unit was shot and killed by her intimate partner before he committed suicide. The situation had been going on for a couple years but the Assistant Chief had recently left her abuser. He lured her to the house to pick up an heirloom she'd left behind. Prior to her death, she confided to a friend she was too embarrased to get help because of her position. She said, of all people, she should have known better.

Awareness and prevention are the main tools used to combat Domestic Violence. We need new tools and to educate our children when they're five, not when they're in high school. We train our sons to respect women when they're very young. We hope some male is modeling this behavior for little boys, even in fatherless homes. It's more difficult to start with teenage boys because of the saturation of porn and increased commodification of women's bodies. Virtual and actual misuse of a woman's body contribute to her dehumanization. Male abusers view their partners as "their woman." 

Thanks for your input and questions Marilyn.

Take care,