Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Do Not Discriminate
Domestic and sexual violence can affect all people regardless of age group, ethic backgroud, men, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, hereterosexual and same-sex couples and family dymanics.
By Carmen Frias
1 in 4 Women Will Be the Victim of Domestic Violence, Survey Reveals Abuse Occurs in American Marriages
It is common for domestic violence to be affiliated with only married couples and sexual violence to be affiliated with only strangers. According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence does not excuse anyone, and a formal relationship between the abuser and the accuser is not necessary.
Often, marriage has been used to excuse domestic and sexual violence. It was not until 1976 that state laws recognized non-consensual intercourse with a spouse as rape. Nebraska was the first state to eliminate the marital rape exemption and other states followed the example. By 1993, all 50 states had completely or partially repealed the marital rape exemptions. Some states still consider spousal rape a lesser crime than non-spousal rape.
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey revealed that 24.3 percent of American women have experienced severe physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
“I think one thing that speaks to how domestic violence has shifted is a shift in language. We have kind of started using domestic violence and intimate partner violence interchangeably,” Anna Cibils, medical advocate for Lutheran Settlement House and Einstein Medical Center, said. “Domestic violence tends to suggest that this is happening between two people that are married and living together when we know that abusive relationships can be between people who are not married, who are in a serious relationship or a casual relationship.”
Domestic abuse can be physical, verbal or nonverbal, sexual, stalking, economic and spiritual.
“Financial abuse, which is often the main kind of abuse that keeps somebody from leaving an abusive relationship, is when their partner who is choosing abuse has all control over their finances, is not letting them go back to school, is not letting them have a job and if they have a job is taking their money when they get back,” Cibils said. “So there’s a lot of different kinds of equality that needs to happen on a society wide level for people to be less vulnerable to end up in these situations. Sexual abuse is another example that I think speaks to the problems on a societal level as far as rape culture and a culture that often excuses sexual assault.”
With reporting domestic or sexual violence crimes, there is a possibility that the crime is not prioritized by authorities, friends or family members.
“A woman I worked with was very young when she was in a controlling relationship. The lawyer that was defending the abusive partner used a lot of things that were part of her past against her. So the abusive partner had actually forced her into sex work so in that case that wasn’t sex where that was human trafficking but because it was a lack of knowledge in the courtroom on what trafficking is, they just slut-shamed her,” Cibils said.
Supporting victims and survivors of abuse can help promote gender equality by providing all victims and survivors with the same safe space to discuss their abuse and celebrate their voices.
“I think what we still need to do, to make sure we live in a world that is equal, gender equality for all, is going back to that notion of raising our boys and girls in a way that, even at a very young age that their body is theirs, they have full body autonomy, that the body safety is theirs, if they say no to hugging, an aunt or uncle, whoever, that we listen to that,” Angela Rose, Founder and Executive Director of Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment (PAVE), said.
By Carmen Frias