Last week I started the three part series on the different forms of abuse. I discussed emotional abuse.
As I mentioned in the previous blog, verbal, mental, spiritual, and psychological abuse often fall under the category of emotional abuse. These types of abuse are very damaging to the psyche. Usually emotional abuse worsens because the abuser obtains their goal of control and power.
This week I’d like to discuss physical abuse: physical violence and sexual abuse. Both women and men can experience these forms of abuse and it is an especially uncomfortable topic to discuss and admit. Victims can feel embarrassed and judged when coming forward.
Physical violence is not only hitting or punching. Many actions fall under the umbrella of physical violence, such as: pushing, throwing things at the victim, pulling hair, grabbing and squeezing the body, choking, kicking, physically preventing the victim from leaving them, just to name a few.
Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual act. It includes rape, coercion of the victim to do sexual acts, making sexual threats, and not allowing the use of contraception. These are just a few examples.
How common is physical violence? The numbers are shocking. Statistics show that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.1 This is unacceptable.
For sexual abuse, the statistics are equally surprising. 1 out of every 6 American adult women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape). About 3% of American adult men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.2
These numbers do not include the other types of sexual abuse and are even more disturbing when taking into account how many victims do not report the abuse. Sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes, with 60% still being left unreported. 3
We live in a highly educated country with clearly defined laws, many support and counseling services available, and yet we still have very high rates of physical abuse. We must wipe away the stigma attached to such crimes. We can make it comfortable and safe for the victim to seek help and justice.
If you’re being abused or know someone who is, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help. 1-800-799-7233.
Remember, if we can help just one victim, we’ve done our job.
1) Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy. National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey.” (2000)
2) National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence against Women Survey. 1998.
3) U.S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005.