Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Emotional impact of domestic violence

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Emotional impact of domestic violence

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Japan

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Intimate partner violence affects more than 12 million people every year. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. There are thousands of people dealing with domestic violence all over the world. Domestic abuse, also called "domestic violence" or "intimate partner violence,” can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Abuse takes many forms like physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions to influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together or dating. According to the United Nations, domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Not everyone comes out of an abusive relationship alive. Becoming resilient and maintaining your mental health is your top priority. Victims of abuse may experience depression, worry, self-doubt, increased anxiety, low self-esteem, and suicide ideation. Domestic violence such as verbal violence, hate speech, psychological violence, humiliation, criticism  and sexual violence, can lead to negative thoughts, and can rapidly change the way you think and can change your life. Abuse can lead to negative health outcomes such as chronic pain, depression, alcohol and substance abuse, increased risk of stroke, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, or gynecological problems.

Women are more often the victims of domestic violence than men with findings from the Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science showing that women make up 85 percent of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) victims. In addition, the statistics of how often women are abused, physically injured, or murdered by their partners are astounding. According to Our Watch, Australia, a woman is beaten every nine seconds, three women are killed a day by husbands/boyfriends, while one in three women are forced into sex, beaten, or otherwise abused another way during her lifetime.

Despite the high rate of IPV instances, most go unreported to the police. Only about 20 percent of rapes/sexual assaults, 25 percent of physical assaults and 50 percent of stalking incidents are reported, according to the Emory School of Medicine.

Though a majority of the victims tend to be women, men can also be victims of IPV. In fact, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence said one in four men have been physically abused, slapped, pushed, or shoved by an intimate partner and one in 18 men are severely injured by intimate partners in their lifetimes. In addition, the coalition said that nearly one in 10 men in the U.S. has experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner and experienced at least one measured impact related to other forms of violent behavior in the relationship (e.g., being fearful, concerned for safety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms).

Most abuses come in verbal forms, which may affect your mental state. An abuser may prevent you from spending time with friends or family; embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family. And, put down your accomplishments; or blame you for how they feel or act. Most victims of sexual abuse blame themselves for the abuse.

Domestic abuse is wrong: you don’t have to be in an abusive domestic relationship. Abusive relationships rob women and men and those around them of the autonomy, emotional stability, free will and much more. It can take a lot of work and time to recover from abuse and even longer for victims to understand that the abuse was not their fault. Healing from sexual, physical and/or emotional abuse is a process.

Every person deserves a violence-free life.

If you or someone you know might be suffering from Intimate Partner Violence or abuse, please seek help. At Camp Zama: 080-5968-3188 (24/7); National Domestic Violence Hot Line: 1-800-799-7233; Japan Domestic Violence Hot Line: 0120-279-889 and 0570-0-5521; Japan Help Line 0570-000-911;American Embassy and Consulate Japan: Counseling Center for Women: 050-1501-2803 (M-F/ 10:00-1700) Counseling Services on Violence for Husbands or Partners (call for brochure of resources).

Go fear-ward!

Hilary Valdez is a freelancer living in Tokyo, Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at his website or email. Follow his YouTube channel Hilary’s Quick Talk for more insights.

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