This month SCAMFT board member, Elizabeth Pratt, is taking over the blog to help us be better informed clinicians around the issue of domestic violence. We hope you’ll follow and share as we go along.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I will post several items throughout the month. Some may be statistical, some socio-political, some clinical, and some literary. All, I hope, will help us think about one of the most serious issues in Marriage and Family Therapy. Our clients cannot afford for us to be ignorant of the dynamics of Intimate Partner Violence (Domestic Violence, Family Violence, Dating Violence).
Let me start by sharing some Myths and Facts about Domestic Violence:
Myth #1: The problem of domestic violence is greatly exaggerated.
Fact: More than 12 million Americans per year are victims of Intimate Partner Violence. Nearly 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men will experience IPV in their lifetime. (http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/IPV-FactSheet.pdf) In 2014, South Carolina had 43 women murdered by their male intimate partner, ranking South Carolina #5 in the US for domestic violence homicides. (Violence Policy Center, When men murder women, 2016)
Myth #2: Couples fight; it is natural.
Fact: All couples have conflict and disagreement. However, anger is a feeling, and violence is a behavior. Anger does not have to be expressed violently. Domestic violence is a crime of power and control.
Myth #3: Domestic violence only happens among the poor and uneducated.
Fact: Domestic violence occurs in families of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, of all socioeconomic levels, of all educational and religious backgrounds, and in urban, suburban, and rural settings.
Myth #4: If someone is really being abused, they will leave.
Fact: There are many reasons victims do not leave, including: love, economic dependence, isolation, low self-esteem, religious beliefs, fear of worse violence, and/or concerns about their children.
Myth #5: Domestic violence does not really affect children since they are not usually aware of the abuse.
Fact: 80-90% of children in homes where there is domestic violence can give detailed descriptions of the violence in their families. Children exposed to domestic violence have higher rates of developmental, cognitive, and language problems; asthma, allergies, headaches, digestive problems; shame, guilt, low self-esteem; depression, anxiety, etc. (http://www.vawnet.org/advanced-search/summary.php?doc_id=731&find_type=web_desc_NRCDV).
Elizabeth Pratt received an Ed.S. in Marriage & Family Therapy from Converse College in 1999. She has been an adjunct professor for the Converse College M.MFT program since 2002. Currently, she is the Clinical Director at SAFE Homes-Rape Crisis Coalition in Spartanburg, South Carolina where she has worked with domestic violence survivors for 14 years.