October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Manuel Figueroa
Pulse Staff Reporter

clenched fist with woman in background
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

One out of four people have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. Three out of four Americans know someone who is or has been a victim.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Supporters wear or display a purple ribbon all month to bring attention to this issue.

According to the San Antonio Police Department’s Domestic Violence Annual Report, 44,695 calls for domestic violence occurred in 2013. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the highest reporting days of the week, while the summer months continue to be the highest reporting months, followed by December and January.

No one wants to talk about this sensitive subject, but many know of someone who has been affected by some type of domestic violence. Victims often make excuses in staying in the relationship. They will argue that it was only one time or pretend it never happened, until it happens again.

“She stayed for their children. She wanted to keep her family together,” said Maria Guerrero, a sophomore Biology major at Palo Alto College, who once had a close friend involved in an abusive relationship. “She left him three times before but would then go back after her husband would apologize and say it wouldn’t happen again.”

Statistically, a woman will attempt to leave the abusive relationship an average of seven times before they finally leave for good.

The final incident that made Guerrero’s friend leave was when she couldn’t get up off the floor.

“She called the police, she went to the hospital and filed a restraining order a few days later,” said Guerrero.

In the United States, 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner. Once it starts, the abuse escalates and continues. The longer a person stays, the harder it becomes to walk away.

Usually domestic violence starts with verbal abuse, with words, putting their partner down. Then it becomes emotional abuse, breaking someone’s self-esteem. Finally, it evolves to physical abuse, the kind that leaves you bruised, bleeding or dead. It is difficult to escape abusive relationships, but not impossible.

Campus Police have not reported any recent calls for any abuse or violence involving couples at Palo Alto College.

“I can’t recall any recent physical altercations or any issues related to domestic violence on campus, but I know that they have occurred,” said Dr. Daniel Rodriguez, counselor/professor of Student Development at Palo Alto College.

“Domestic violence is a problem that many students might not address on campus, but we do have students that do come in and speak with counselors relating to some domestic issues they might have,” he said. “We’ll give them referrals, if they need sheltering or other types of services. We can provide that information.”

High profile cases attract headlines, but thousands experience domestic violence every day. One thing to remember is that domestic violence affects people from all backgrounds, regardless of race, education, religion, social class or income. For the cycle to stop, education and prevention are key.

Staying in this type of abusive relationship is complex and varies with each person, as each case is different. Acknowledgement is the first step in ending it; the second step is to plan your escape from this relationship, safely. Sometimes it is dangerous to get up and leave without an escape plan.

Local and national services are available for helping you find what you’ll need to get away and stay safe. Locally, you can visit the Battered Women and Children’s Shelter/Family Violence Prevention Services, Bexar County Family Justice Center, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Here are some of the signs to watch for if you are dating or already in an exclusive relationship. It can be hard to tell when a behavior crosses the line from healthy to unhealthy or even abusive. According to Love is Respect, some red flags to look for include:

  • Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  • Constantly putting you down
  • Explosive temper
  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • Isolating you from family or friends
  • Making false accusations
  • Mood swings
  • Physically hurting you in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling you what to do
  • Pressuring or forcing you to have sex