From Andrew Harris, 10/8/21
Many “awareness” movements have used the calendar to remind people of their particular effort or message. It seems to have worked so well that now every month has multiple movements asking for recognition, donations, or action. While ALS, breast cancer, and MS are all worthy causes that impact many people on the planet, they don’t compare to October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Just on the statistics alone, domestic violence is a tragedy that impacts the majority of American lives. The overwhelming majority of women in the United States are victims at some point, in some form, during their life. While traditionally less impacted statistically, men are also frequent victims, in one way or another.
The picture of the ‘battered wife,’ has changed over time, the abuse continues in forms beyond a black eye or broken arm. As society has become less tolerant of physical beatings, we can’t turn a blind eye to the many other forms of abuse emerging in that shadow. Much of this abuse has turned non-violent and but nonetheless insidious and just as destructive.
Consider text messaging alone. We aren’t talking about bickering over text messages or sending snarky social media emojis. Abusers have taken to electronic means as a way to hit a victim thousands of times per month. As one young lady explained not long ago after being psychologically bullied, harassed, and name called for days put it bluntly:
“It would have been easier for me if he just hit me in the face.”
Abusers are not just blocking social media accounts or sending mentally terrorizing text messages. This new form of domestic abuse goes on for weeks, months, years, and without as much protection from the law as afforded to physical abuse. Abusive people are often ingenious in their efforts to exercise control and power. They find a new phone number or create a new Facebook account. These days it is common for abusive actors to use social media to track, stalk, and attack victims. In 2021, very few domestic violence issues don’t have an element of electronic violence involved.
A contributor and friend of this site, Dr. Tom Hyslip, recently appeared on the national stage to discuss the issue of cyberstalking, abuse, and harassment. “Red Table Talk,” hosted by Willow, Jada, and Gammy Smith brought Hyslip onto the show for a detailed talk about this form of domestic abuse and how to protect yourself and your family. Please watch and share with your friends:
If you don’t use Facebook and can’t watch the show, please consider Dr. Hyslip’s core advice if you or a loved one are being digitally abused, cyberstalked, or harassed:
1- Go to the police in person
2- Bring your devices
3- Say that you feel scared or threatened
4- Demand action: Insist officers file a report and act
All forms of domestic violence are unacceptable and almost every victim needs help in order to end the cycle. Whether it is a slap across the face, restricting access to financial means, abusive sexual behavior, or constant harassment via private messages(or all of the above): These are crimes and law enforcement can help.
Are you or a loved one in an abusive situation? We have great local resources, staffed by professional domestic violence advocates who are ready to help. Use this link to contact Victim Services, a Community Action program. We have a local office on Main Street Wellsville that you can call directly, 585 593 4685, to speak with an advocate. Please don’t wait.