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Breaking the chains of domestic abuse

Domestic violence is defined as threatened or actual use of psychological, physical or sexual violence against a person by a family member or an intimate partner. It affects people of all ages and all racial, ethnic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

This violence is like a desperate and dangerous chain that often can be linked to an abuser having been raised in an abusive household. While not all abusers are men, most are. In fact, adult women are abused by their partners 10 times more often than adult men; about two million women in the United States are abused every year.

Unchecked, domestic violence can be a sad legacy passed from generation to generation. Men who abuse their partners may also be violent with their children. More than 3 million children witness acts of violence in their homes each year, and many of these children will grow up to become perpetrators or victims of abuse.

Do your part to break the chain of domestic violence. If you are in an abusive relationship or household, get help immediately. For emergencies or information on resources in your area, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for immediate help.

Speak up if you know someone who is a victim of domestic violence. Assure a victim that abuse is not the abused person’s fault. Also, stress that the domestic violence usually escalates over time. Finally, urge anyone you know who is abused to seek help without delay.

Signs that a person is being abused include:

  • injuries that don’t fit the story of how they occurred
  • multiple injuries that occur at different times on different parts of the body
  • injuries that leave a distinctive imprint, such as those made by teeth, belts, cigarette butts, irons and fingers
  • frequent medical visits
  • a depressed mood and/or anxiety
  • drug or alcohol abuse
  • a change in appetite
  • suicide attempts

Without question, it takes courage to get help for domestic violence. But it’s an act of bravery that may save a life today while sparing future generations.