Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

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DV and Sexual Assault

Did you know that sexual assault and domestic violence often go hand in hand? When we hear the term sexual assault, we often think of attacks by strangers. This isn’t always the case. In fact, around 33% of sexual assaults are committed by a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend.

Intimate partner violence also tends to start young, during the “tween” or teenage years. The CDC reports that among survivors of sexual assault, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, more than 22% of female survivors and 15% of male survivors experienced intimate partner violence for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17. Between the ages of 18 and 24, those figures jump to nearly half of female survivors and one third of male survivors.

So we know that many sexual assaults are committed by intimate partners, and we know these issues affect adolescents as young as 11 years of age. The big question is, what can we do to change this?

Learn the warning signs.

If you can recognize the red flags for abuse in relationships, then you can protect yourself and potentially others from harm. The Power and Control Wheel can be a helpful resource that shows the types of behaviors to watch out for. It’s also a good idea to know what rights you have in your relationships. We put together a quick exercise to make it easy to do on your own, or even with friends.

Educate others, and start young.

Once you know all about the warning signs of abuse and the qualities of healthy relationships, share your knowledge. One of the most important things we can do is educate young people about healthy relationships and consent. Teens need to know before they start dating how they should be treated, and just as importantly, how to treat their partners. Having these conversations early will equip them with the tools to choose respectful partners, and say no to questionable ones.

Take action.

Last but not least, you can take action! Consider volunteering with organizations like LifeWire, donate if you can, vote for legislation that supports survivors and their families. On a more personal level, never underestimate the positive impact you can have on a person just by listening. If a friend reaches out to you about abuse, listen to them and believe them. That kind of support may not be available to them at home, and your support can make a world of difference.

Domestic Violence and Credit

Concerned woman on phone with laptop and papers in front of her

Unpaid bills

Throughout their marriage, Rebecca’s husband controlled every aspect of their finances. And while the lease to the house had been in both their names, he stopped paying rent to punish her. Rebecca spent many sleeplessness nights agonizing over the $1,800 she owed her landlord.

Ninety-eight percent of domestic violence survivors experience financial abuse. Some abusers, like Rebecca’s husband, stop making payments. Others gain power and control over their partner by limiting how they spend money, running up huge debts, or destroying their credit. Continue reading “Domestic Violence and Credit”

Weathering the storms

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Unexpected snow day

Debbie was excited when she moved into her own apartment in February. After a year living in shelters, she looked forward to a having a place of her own where she felt safe and could continue to heal.

But, the first morning Debbie woke up to several inches of snow. She didn’t know what to do. The neighborhood was unfamiliar and her fridge and cupboards were still bare.
Continue reading “Weathering the storms”

Feeling guilt in your relationship? You’re not alone.

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“Why did you stay in a abusive relationship?”

It’s such a common question asked of those who have either left or considered leaving abusive relationships. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. There are lots of factors that can keep people in unhealthy relationships including lack of money, fear, and isolation. Often, guilt plays a major role in why people stay or delay leaving.

What do we even mean by guilt?

One of the ways abusive partners get us to stay with them is by convincing us that its our fault when bad things happen in the relationship and that we deserve them. They do this using tactics like gaslighting, where they make you question things you know to be true, or act like you hurt them even though they’re the one being abusive.

Continue reading “Feeling guilt in your relationship? You’re not alone.”