Domestic Violence is bigger than black eyes

Professional athletes Ray Rice and Jeffery Taylor have faced consequences for domestic violence and so have the victims.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that one in four women and more than one in 10 men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner and reported significant short- or long-term impacts.

Leisa Wiseman, communication director of government affairs at Florida Coalition against Domestic Violence, said, “Physical violence is very rarely the first type of abuse that occurs.”

Florida A&M University’s sociology assistant professor Gregory Harris said that intimate partner violence can impact a victim further than physical. He said consequences can impact victims psychologically and socially.

 “You start believing this person because they’re doing a job on you psychologically,” Harris said. “They already assessed your voids and your needs and they’re playing into them to control you. You reorient your way of thinking because all you think about is what I can do to make this person not treat me this way.”

Power and control are two big tools used by perpetrators to break down their victims. Harris suggested that when people lack self-control, they like to control other people. And victims socially become isolated and maneuver in life differently, he said.

“They start to reduce the victims to their level or lower so that they can manage you,” Harris said. “Manage you not for you, but for them.”

Harris said domestic violence can take an emotional toll on victims.

“Victims commonly feel reclusive, defensive, evasive, quiet and very reserved,” Harris said. “They also feel that life is bleak and that they’re stuck, lost and alone.”

Harris expressed that some victims find that it’s hard to start healthy relationships and move forward after the violence.

“It’s traumatic reliving what they have experienced and not being able to move forward,” Harris said. “Sometimes they find themselves in another relationship like the one they were in before.”

According to Harris, a potential intimate partner violence victim starts making up excuses, stops doing the things they used to do and starts devoting all of their time to that individual.

“When you devote all your energy, the question becomes what happens when you’re not speaking to this person,” Harris said. “You’re sort of lost and feel abandoned because you devoted so much time, attention and energy to that person.”

Denaya Powell, 19, a freshman criminal justice student at FAMU from Pensacola, Fla., knows all about the impact of intimate partner violence.  She was a victim.

“I invested so much time, money and energy, but he never reciprocated,” Powell said.  “I was concerned about being with him, doing everything with him and catering to his every want, no matter how he abused me.”

Powell described herself as being engulfed.

“After the honeymoon stage followed the violent attacks,” Powell said. “It was a never-ending cycle, and it seemed that life was not going to get any better.”

Harris said by the time victims figure out someone is hurting them, they’re already in love. But there are some ways to avoid intimate partner violence, he said, as anyone can find himself or herself a victim.

He suggests individuals avoid rushing into instant relationships and constantly be aware of their partners. Knowing the tools the perpetrator is using to control a victim can be helpful. Also, reaching out and asking for help can assist victims to develop healthy relationships.

“When victims choose to leave they can reach out to certified domestic violence centers, the statewide domestic violence hotline and go through safety planning depending on each individual’s circumstance,” Wiseman said. “You’re not alone. Help is available.”

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