Commentary: Purple ribbons for awareness

You may have noticed all the pink ribbons being worn during the NFL football games, representing breast cancer awareness month. However, October is important for another serious issue, which also largely touches upon women. It is the month designated as domestic violence awareness month. 

It is easy to lose sight of the purple ribbons, with so many people wearing pink. Both are serious issues that primarily touch upon the lives of women within society at all levels of social and economic stature. 

This short article is intended to shed light on the issue. If only one person reads this and they’re able to see that there are resources available, and that they have the power to take the steps necessary to change their future, than just like those diagnosed with breast cancer they’ll see that their future is not without hope. 

What is domestic violence? It is not just an argument that gets physical. It is much more than this. It is an unhealthy relationship based on power and control perpetrated by one person upon another. 

Physical and sexual assaults, or threats to commit them, are the most apparent forms of domestic violence and are usually the actions that allow others to become aware of the problem. However, regular use of other abusive behaviors by the batterer, when reinforced by or more acts of physical violence, make up a larger system of abuse. 

Although physical assault may occur only once or occasionally, it instills a threat of future violent attacks and allows the abuser to take control of the woman’s life and circumstances. Very often, one or more violent incidents are accompanied by an array of these other types of abuse:

INTIMIDATION: Making her afraid by using looks, actions, and gestures. Smashing things. Destroying her property. Abusing pets. Displaying weapons. 

EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Putting her down. Making her feel bad about herself. Calling her names. Making her think she’s crazy. Playing mind games. Humiliating her. Making her feel guilty. 

ISOLATION: Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, and where she goes. Limiting her outside involvement. Using jealousy to justify actions. 

MINIMIZING, DENYING, AND BLAMING: Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously. Saying the abuse didn’t happen. Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior. Saying she caused it. 

USING CHILDREN: Making her feel guilty about the children. Using the children to relay messages. Using visitation to harass her. Threatening to take the children away. 

ECONOMIC ABUSE: Preventing her from getting or keeping a job. Making her ask for money. Giving her an allowance. Taking her money. Not letting her know about or have access to family income. 

MALE PRIVILEGE: Treating her like a servant: making all the big decisions, acting like the “master of the castle,” being the one to define men’s and women’s roles.

COERCION AND THREATS: Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her. Threatening to leave her, commit suicide, or report her to welfare. Making her drop charges. Making her do illegal things. 

In 2000, intimate partner homicides accounted for 34 percent of the murders of women, and 82 percent of men who killed their partners had histories of domestic violence. However, domestic violence is complicated because often the victim does truly love the batterer. Survivors of domestic violence leave their abusers approximately seven to 11 times before finally ending the relationship permanently. 

Help is available. You are not alone. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, there are resources available in Grant County. For more information, please call  Heart of Grant County, a confidential nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting survivors of abuse at 541-575-4335.

Jeremy Dietrich is deputy district attorney in Grant County.

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