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FOR RELEASE: October 17, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month,
Part 2 – Predictors of Abuse

What is domestic violence? Domestic violence refers to all crimes between family members. The term is often used to refer to spousal abuse and battering. According to an article published in this month's Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, intimate partner violence (IPV) is a recent term used to refer to domestic violence that occurs between current or former marital and non-marital partners, including dating and courtship relationships and same-sex partners. The article reports that four to seven percent of women in Oklahoma are physically assaulted by their partners annually.

Nationally, about 16 to 30 percent of women treated in emergency departments are there for injuries directly or indirectly related to intimate partner violence. IPV ranks as one of the nation's most expensive health problems and costs an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion per year in health care, lost productivity, and criminal justice interventions. It occurs among all ages, races, genders, and socioeconomic groups. The U.S. Bureau of Justice reports, however, that women are more than seven times likely to be victimized by an intimate partner than men.

Many theories exist as to why some men use violence against their partners. These theories include family dysfunction, inadequate communication skills, provocation by women, stress, chemical dependency, lack of spirituality and economic hardship. These issues are associated with the violence but are not the causes of it. The abuser uses violent behavior to gain or keep control over another person and usually gets away without consequences for the behavior.

Abusers come from all groups and backgrounds and from all personality profiles. Some warning signs include extreme jealousy, a bad temper, possessiveness, unpredictability, cruelty to animals and verbal abusiveness.

Characteristics of an abusive profile include:

  • Sees women as property or sexual objects.
  • Has low self-esteem and feels powerless and ineffective yet may appear successful.
  • Blames the violent behavior on stress, other person's behavior, a “bad day,” alcohol or other factors.
  • Can be pleasant and charming between periods of violence and may be seen as a “nice person” to outsiders.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has developed a list of signs that often occur before actual abuse and may serve as clues to potential abuse:

  • Did the person grow up in a violent family and learn violence as a normal behavior?
  • Does the person use force or violence to “solve” problems? A criminal record, or history of fights, punching walls or throwing things are signs of violent behavior.
  • Does the person abuse alcohol or drugs?
  • Does the person have strong traditional views about the roles of men and women?
  • Is the person jealous of other relationships with friends and family?
  • Does he or she try to keep tabs on you?
  • Does the person threaten to use guns, knives, or other weapons against people or to get even?
  • Does the person expect you to follow orders or get angry if you do not fulfill his or her wishes?
  • Does the person go through extreme highs and lows, almost as if he or she is two different people?
  • When the person gets angry, do you fear him or her? Do you find that not making that person angry has become a major part of your life?
  • Does the person treat you roughly or force you to do what you do not want to do?

When one person scares, hurts or continually puts down the other person, it is abuse – and no one deserves abuse. For information about domestic abuse or for help if you are in an abusive situation, call the National Domestic Violence 24 hour Hotline, 1-800-799-7233.

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