October is the season of change. The heat of the summer simmers into the welcomed chill of fall. Nature begins its renewal process with trees dropping their leaves as a form of self-protection. October is also widely known as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This nationwide recognition started in 1987 and continues today to “connect and unite individuals and organizations working on domestic violence issues while raising awareness for those issues” (NCADV, 2021).
Phillips & Peters is a boutique family law firm that handles legal barriers impacting the family. Domestic violence can spill into our legal practice when a victim needs a protective order, divorce, or other assistance. Our mission is to help our clients move forward from the obstacles they face. At times this includes escaping the dangerous grasps of domestic violence. The following post contains information our team has learned over the years. It incorporates resources that are readily available for anyone in need in the region of Coastal Virginia.
What is Domestic Violence?
There is a perpetual misconception that equates domestic violence to women experiencing physical harm from their partners. This narrow view is only one example of a global problem. The United Nations defines domestic violence as “a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.” This broader definition helps identify the root issue of abuse; the need for one individual to have power and control over another. With that understanding, it is easy to see how domestic violence affects all people regardless of gender identity, marital status, sexual orientation, socio-economic position, or race.
Types of Domestic Violence
Abuse uses a variety of tactics to dismantle equality in a relationship. Every partnership is different. Below are some tactics and types of mistreatment that are common.
Intimidation is when one person behaves in a way that makes others fear injury or harm. Verbal threats, aggressive gestures, and threatening looks all fall into the category of intimidation. It can also include destroying personal property, hurting pets, or brandishing potential weapons. Anything that knowingly instills fears is intimidation.
When one partner humiliates, ridicules, gaslights, or bullies the other – that is emotional abuse. This degradation involves inducing psychological harm that may trigger anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It can also look like one partner failing to take responsibility for their harmful actions. Making fun of the abuse, saying it did not happen, or blaming the partner for the abuse is a form of interpersonal violence.
During the year of wellness at Phillips & Peters, we learned the importance of community. Your community is your support system and is necessary for healthy relationships. Being isolated from your community can be a dangerous form of control. When someone tries to control where you go and who you talk to, take note of the red flag for harmful behavior.
Money creates a lot of opportunities and provides a safety net in many situations. When one partner prevents the other from the shared income, they are exerting control over financial stability. Economic abuse can look like hindering someone from getting or keeping a job. This injustice inhibits necessary financial freedom.
This form of abuse includes physical violence, withholding of physical needs, and indirect harmful behaviors. Society conceptualizes domestic violence as physical assault such as hitting, beating, shaking, punching, choking, etc. The withholding of physical needs such as interrupting sleep and denying food or water is just as destructive.
Sexual abuse exploits sex to cause harm, guilt, and force control. It is not limited to harassment and assault. It can also look like: making fun of another’s body concerning sexual performance, withholding sex as a means of control, having affairs to taunt the other, “exhibiting excessive jealousy resulting in false accusations of infidelity”, and more.
The end of a relationship or a severed partnership is not always the end of abuse. Stalking is a common form of inappropriate behavior towards victims and is also against the law. In the digital age, cyberstalking has become more common as well. Any online behavior that controls, intimidates, influences, or retaliates against a victim is a form of violence. Individuals that share children with their abuser might find their former partner using the children to gain back some control. When a parent interferes with visitation or threatens to take the children away, it is time to call a family law attorney. No one deserves to be subject to such behavior.
Hampton Roads Resources for Escaping Abuse
Fortunately, there are passionate and proactive organizations dedicated to putting an end to domestic violence. If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, please feel free to utilize these resources.
The Samaritan House serves the Hampton Roads community by providing housing for victims of sexual and domestic violence. Their work spans back to 1984 and includes a holistic approach to support. The organization has a 24-hour crisis hotline at 757-430-2120. We love that Samaritan House uses a team approach to work with its clients. If you are in need of their services outside of an emergency, their offices can be reached Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM at 757-587-4202.
The Genieve Shelter is a safe refuge for victims that serves Suffolk, Franklin, Smithfield, Isle of Wight, Southampton, and Surry. Their work covers domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking. The Genieve Shelter has an innovative service for Suffolk residents where they can text 911 for help. For immediate help call 1-800-969-4673.
HER stands for Help and Emergency Response, Inc. This organization’s mission is to empower anyone to break the cycle of violence and live healthy and productive lives as caring individuals with a strong sense of self-worth. They have several emergency shelters and a wide variety of services and programs available. H.E.R Shelter has a hotline that can be reached at 757-485-3384.
The YWCA is the oldest and largest multicultural women’s organization with the South Hampton Roads chapter in service since 1911. Their long history allows for an abundance of services including: Crisis Services, Counseling, Youth Services, Advocacy, Outreach, Volunteer and Intern, and Racial Justice. The YWCA has a 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 757-251-0144.
The Hampton Roads Community Action Program is a nonprofit community action agency. They are a hub for programs that will support survivors of domestic violence. Currently, they connect individuals with career services, emergency services, housing, and financial literacy services, veteran and youth services.
Since 1977 the nonprofit organization known as Transitions Family Violence Services has been serving the peninsula of Hampton Roads. They provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence in Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, and York County. They have court advocacy and counseling programs, housing services, and community education and training. Their 24-hour crisis hotline can be reached at 757-723-7774.
The Center is a non-profit made up of “individuals with diverse philosophies, backgrounds, and abilities united by a desire and commitment to end sexual violence and intimate partner violence in the Hampton Roads area”. All of their services are confidential and free. They have case management, resources & referrals, and a 24-hour crisis hotline for those impacted with sexual assault. The Center’s hotline can be reached at 757-236-5260.
Even though we are not all victims of domestic violence, we all can have an impact on stopping the abuse cycle. Providing safe refuge for friends and family, speaking out about harm, and financially supporting organizations like the ones listed above are just a few steps an individual can take. Now that you are aware of the many forms of domestic violence you can spread that awareness among your communities. Help your friends and family recognize the signs of abuse as well. Together we can protect our loved ones and give them the tools they need to move forward.