Domestic violence is one of the most significant violence issues in our communities. It may also be one of the more preventable types of violence. But prevention requires awareness and knowledge of the violence dynamics involved. It also requires action.
Many years ago, I lived two houses down from a young woman in her twenties. She was married and had a toddler. One evening, as I came home from work, I saw her in her yard. She had a black eye and bruises on her face. It was an accident, she said. She had fallen and hit her face. I was a young attorney, pre-occupied with a trial, and I didn’t pursue the issue. I didn’t do anything to support her or to refer her to resources. And neither did the other neighbor who lived next door to the woman and had heard her screaming.
This woman is no longer alive. Her husband shot her in their home a few years later, by accident, he said. He was never charged.
You can start with educating yourself on domestic violence issues. You can learn about supporting a friend or acquaintance that you know or suspect is being abused by a partner or spouse. But bear in mind that ultimately people subjected to abuse must make their own decisions on what actions to take.
It’s also important to remember that abusers often burt their partners without leaving any obvious signs like visible bruises or black eyes. Abuse often starts with emotional and/or mental intimidation, manipulation, coercion, and control tactics. Abusers often isolate their partners from friends, family, co-workers, and others. to learn more call your local domestic violence organization support line.
Here are some resources:
Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (providing contact information for Montana domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking resources as well as other state and national resources)