Domestic violence, fear and silence walk hand in hand.
Many times, it escalates, but you dont pay attention because you are afraid, so you dont say anything, said Tangela Chipman, a domestic violence survivor who suffered for years at the hands of her childrens father and then-boyfriend. They tend to use reverse psychology to make you feel as if youre the problem.
Chipman said her boyfriends excessive need for control was her warning sign.
At the age of 17, I just felt that he loved me, she said.
Her boyfriend was four years her senior.
Chipman, who serves as a domestic violence detective for the Miami-Dade County Special Victims Unit believes that domestic violence does not always start with physical abuse, but the warning signs are downplayed by the victims due to their feelings of love and/or fear.
An overwhelming number of victims suffer at the hands of their spouses and partners.
The rising number of domestic violence cases has caused many to ask if society is desensitized to the issue of domestic violence.
According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, 111,681 incidents of domestic violence were reported in 2011 192 women, men and children were brutally murdered.
Within that same year, emergency shelters were provided to nearly 15,789 individuals. At least 40,007 women, children and men received outreach services, a five percent increase from the previous year.
It seems less taboo to hit a woman now, said DeMarcus Matthews, a senior psychology student from Pensacola. So many male celebrities have been charged with violence towards women and are still applauded by society. Something needs to change or society is headed towards disaster.
Ghia Kelly, community education program director for the Refuge House, said that peoples personal lives contribute to passive emotions surrounding the issue.
Many individuals have not seen a good example of a healthy and positive relationship, Kelly said. What weve seen in our own personal lives adds to the problem.
The Refuge House is a local domestic violence shelter for women and children. It also serves as a certified rape crisis center, providing services to both men and women.
Kelly said the media is a contributing factor. She feels the media, especially television and music, portray women in a negative, degrading light.
However, she is not alone in blaming the media for the desensitization of domestic violence.
Jamie Halverson, a sophomore English student from Miami, believes that shows such as Jersey Shore, Real Housewives and Basketball Wives portray women in the worst light and are to blame for the rise in domestic abuse of women.
If I were a man, I would want to beat some of these women, too, Halverson said. Women like Snookie and Evelyn leave a bad impression on viewers. They portray these gaudy, extremely outspoken characters in the media and because theyre loud and constantly violent with other people on the show, many men and even women think its okay to be violent with their women, too. Just because Evelyn is a fool and allows a man to beat on her does not mean that all women are OK with it.
According to the Refuge House, women 18-24 have the highest reported cases of domestic violence in heterosexual relationships, and same-sex cases are on a steady climb as well. However, women 18-44 are the highest effected demographic in domestic violence cases.
Kelly said people must hold one another accountable to ensure that society does not become desensitized to the issue of domestic violence.
Its up to us to tell young women that they are worth so much more, Kelly said. We have to tell our homeboys that they are so much better than their actions.
Chipman, through her work, hopes to bring awareness and advocacy to the issue of domestic violence.
There is life after this, Chipman said. Healing starts within.
For more information about domestic violence or to seek help, visit refugehouse.com or call the 24-hour hotline at 850-681-2111