A woman’s risk of homicide increases significantly when her abuser has access to a gun. Each month, an average of 52 American women are fatally shot by their current or former partners. Even more are injured. BIPOC women, especially Black, Native, and Hispanic women, are at even greater risk of being fatally shot. This is due largely because they have a harder time accessing services and support that can keep them safe.
Anna started seeing LifeWire’s Mental Health Therapist because she was experiencing symptoms of severe trauma. She felt numb and disoriented, had trouble focusing at work, and was having panic attacks.
Abuse, whether physical or psychological, can affect survivors’ mental health. People who experience trauma because of domestic violence are at significantly higher risk for PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Survivors may also try to escape pain and depression with substance use or consider suicide.
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. And nearly one in 10 women has been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime.
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 intimate partners commit sexual assault, 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?
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. As a result, Rebecca spent many sleepless 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.
After Heather left her abusive partner, she felt sad, depressed, and unsure about her future. She also struggled with the challenges of being a single parent and the costs of building a new life.
“The holidays are usually full of joy and love and happiness, but inside I felt I had little of these things. The idea of giving my children a happy holiday experience seemed daunting, and I even considered skipping Christmas altogether.”
Camille never considered her relationship abusive until the morning she called LifeWire’s helpline. Her boyfriend never hit or threatened her, but he liked to be in control. He hated when she got home late from work. He told her what she could wear, who she could see, and how she could spend money.
All of her concerns came to mind when Camille heard Becky, a domestic violence survivor, share her story on New Day Northwest. After listening to Becky, Camille finally had the words to describe what was happening in her relationship: emotional abuse, financial abuse, and domestic violence. Supported with that knowledge, Camille reached out to LifeWire for help.
Last October, the #MeToo movement captured the internet’s attention. From actresses to politicians and domestic laborers to college students, people began sharing their personal experiences with sexual harassment, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Through their brave actions, survivors have opened the door to change. Powerful individuals are losing jobs, companies are revising harassment policies, and survivors like Camille are learning where they can get help.
While there is a need for more research, recent studies suggest that the LGBTQ community experiences domestic violence at rates similar or slightly higher than heterosexual women. In many ways, domestic violence committed in LGBTQ relationships is similar to domestic violence committed in cisgender heterosexual relationships. It may include emotional, psychological abuse, economic abuse, physical violence, and/or sexual assault. But, LGBTQ survivors also face some distinct challenges.