By Rene L. Kriener
October is Domestic Abuse and Violence Awareness Month. With the election around the corner, I would like to draw voters’ attention to a very important issue that will affect most of all of us at some point in our lives.
As reported by the federal Centers for Disease Control, about 1 in 3 women will experience domestic abuse and violence, more commonly referred to as intimate partner violence, or IPV.
IPV is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans, including men. The term describes physical, sexual or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy. Abusers use financial control, physical size and isolation to maintain control over victims.
Most victims rarely tell anyone what is really going on behind closed doors. Research has clearly verified that adults, usually women, and children rarely make up experiences of IPV. In sharp contrast, the perpetrator is able to convince others that they are the victims once the violence is exposed. Many times when victims choose to end the relationship with the abuser, the abuser uses his tactics to discredit the victim and children in any way possible.
In addition, many abusers repeatedly use the court system as a venue to harass their victims with lofty accusations. Unfortunately, the courts and legal experts often view this as “high conflict” when in reality this is a subtle tactic used to continue abuse. These claims contribute to over-saturation of our legal system and discredit real claims of abuse.
Unfortunately many judges and professionals involved in bitter legal battles are not adequately educated on the true underpinnings of IPV, leading to re-victimizing women in court.
There is a growing trend of judges making harsher decisions for victims and children by placing innocent children with abusers. (See “Domestic Violence & The Courtroom, Knowing The Issues … Understanding The Victim” at http://aja.ncsc.dni.us/index.html).
To retain or not retain judges in your district should be considered along with voting for politicians in November.
For more information on these important matters: Helping Services of NEIA, 1-(800) 383-2988; Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, (515) 244-8028; www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/intimatepartnerviolence; victims can contact the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network hotline at 1-(800) 656-HOPE, your local battered women’s shelter or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-(800) 799- 7233.
Rene L. Kriener of Ossian is a nurse practitioner in family practice. Comments: RLKriene@gundluth.org