By Maria Webb, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
This month, we all probably see a lot of pink items for sale to commemorate breast cancer awareness month. But be aware that there is something else killing women that needs to be discussed — domestic violence. Domestic violence, or more specifically intimate partner violence, is a huge problem for the state of Texas. In 2016, 146 women were killed by their male intimate partner as a result of domestic violence. It can affect anyone from all walks of life and includes physical, emotional/verbal, psychological, financial, spiritual, cyber stalking and sexual abuse.
More recently, a Twitter storm erupted with thousands of women sharing #MeToo to share a glimpse of the magnitude of the sexual assault and/or harassment problem women face on a near daily basis. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, in 2016 Houston had the second highest number of abuse calls placed to the organization, statewide. And Texas is second in the country. The most reported type of abuse was emotional/verbal. Unfortunately, many are led to believe that emotional abuse isn’t as serious as physical or sexual abuse, but that is actually quite the opposite. Emotional abuse can leave hidden scars that the individual will carry with them their whole lives, and unless they seek help, they’ll most likely experience some issues in their future relationships.
So how can we eradicate domestic violence for good? The answer is how society responds and values women. We must teach our young boys about boundaries, healthy relationship skills, asking for consent, respecting females and taking accountability for their own actions. There are no “games” of playing “hard to get” — a “no” means no.
If you witness harassment and/or violence, please stand up and educate others to do better, if it is safe to do so.
Other important points to remember:
- Believe the victim’s/survivor’s story
- The abuse is NOT the fault of the victim; the abuser is ALWAYS at fault
- Do not remain a bystander or participate in any conversation that belittles the opposite sex
- Abuse can happen to anyone, male or female
- Provide resources to the victim/survivor
If you or a loved one have experienced domestic violence, know that you are not alone. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you need to talk to someone about abuse you may be suffering, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
Maria Webb is a clinical social worker at Legacy’s Montrose clinic. Prior to joining Legacy she worked at The Houston Area Women’s Center and AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse).