Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behavior in any intimate relationship where one person aims to gain or maintain power and control over the other person through abusive means. Abuse can be one or a combination of the following: physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological. This includes any behaviors that is meant to frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound the other person. The act is abusive because these are delivered without the consent of the other partner and is repetitive. It can happen between partners in a romantic relationship or between an adult and a child.

The behavior of partners in a domestic violence situation is described as a cycle of violence. It is cyclical in the sense that episodes of conflict which may or may not include physical violence is followed by peacefulness and forgiveness, then followed with the same conflict that preceeded the calmness. The repetitive cycles may involve verbal altercations, physical violence or mental manipulations. In most cases, it doesn't start with physical abuse as much as it starts with verbal put downs that can erode the victim's self confidence and sense of self-worth (emotional abuse). Physical abuse can start with the abuser inflicting harm on persons close to the intended victim (like their own children) or the family pet; before physical harm is inflicted on the original intended victim. Yelling, screaming, breaking furniture, punching walls, shoving, grabbing, hitting, choking, punching or sexual attacks can add to the erosion of one's self-worth, resulting in continuity or repetition of the violent cycle. Usually the victim isn't sure why the other person is mad or even what triggers the anger. And the angry partner blames the victim for causing anger. After the escalation of violence comes the apology, a stage of forgive and forget, and promises that it will never happen again. Things are better for awhile until the cycle resumes.

What are sign of domestic violence? Does your partner:
  • Criticize and degrade you?
  • Is jealous and possessive?
  • Controls every aspect of your life?
  • Isolates you from family and friends?
  • Controls your finances?
  • Threatens to hurt or kill you, your children or your pet?
  • Becomes violent and then blames you?

If the situations repeat and each episode of violence leaves you confused and helpless, and wanting for resolution; seek help. The manner by which abuse is inflicted can escalate from emotional to physical. The harm inflicted by your abuser can be directed towards others you value so highly: your children, your relatives, close friends and your pets. Seek help through counseling and find ways to protect yourself.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Labels in Packages

Which one of the following labels have you seen?
On plastic bags: This bag is not a toy. To avoid danger of suffocation, Keep away from small children.
On buckets or drum containers: Keep away from small children.
On toys: Recommended for ages 3 and over.

There's a reason why packaging materials have safety warnings. Plastic bags that are less than 1 millimeter thick and with openings large enough to fit over a child's head, can presents a suffocation hazard. Toddlers typically like to insert parts of their bodies into objects. When a child wears a thin plastic bag over it's head, the act of breathing can cause the thin plastic to cling to areas around the child's nostrils and mouth. The bag will be very difficult to remove and in time can suffocate the child.

Swimming pools are not the only places where children have been found to drown. Large drums and water pails can attract toddlers too. Buckets left outside can collect rainwater and present a drowning hazard. Children under two years of age can fall head first into a bucket and have been known to drown from only two inches of water. Always empty a bucket and store this away from the reach of children.

Children have varying levels of motor and cognitive skills. Motor and cognitive skills develop as the child matures. You can assume that a child less than 7 years of age will not have the life skills to extricate himself from a harmful situation. Children less than 3 years of age (toddlers) have less knowledge of how toys meant for older children can hurt them. Toddlers are known to test the limits of products. They throw, punch and trample on toys. When fragile toys intended for older children break into small, sharp pieces; the broken pieces can harm the child. Toddlers are also known to insert parts of their bodies into tight spaces that can trap and mutilate delicate fingers. So read packaging labels of toys to make sure it's appropriate for the age of your child.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Abuse is not always physical

A woman confided as follows: I dread going home after work and I don't look forward to weekends either. I would sit in my parked car for as long as half an hour trying to build the courage to enter my own home. It had been months since I last slept well as I would be roused out of sleep by a screaming drunk blaming me for the way he feels. He would scream so loudly and so close that I can feel his saliva spraying on my face. Each night, the screaming seems louder and there's less space between our faces. He's closing in on me and his face appears angrier each night. I don't even recognize the face of the man I married when he's angry and drunk. Arguments have progressed from belittling statements delivered in a loud voice to name calling and repeated cursing. This would happen every night, his distance from me so calculated that his gestures and pointed finger stops within an inch, between my eyes.
If you ask him to stop and he doesn't, or his actions repeat, you may both be caught in a cycle of violence. Seek for help before it escalates. Emotional abuse can escalate to physical abuse. Act promptly and the life you save may be your own.