Community Resources for Victims of Domestic Violence
Each year an
estimated two million to four million women are abused by their male
partners. Many of them are
severely physically assaulted, and thousands are killed.
Others are intimidated, isolated, humiliated and controlled by
their partners, usually in silence. Domestic violence isn’t an easy crime to report, because
survivors often feel ashamed, helpless and dependent on the perpetrator.
But there are resources available to help people escape abusive
many reasons why people don’t admit that they are in abusive
relationships, but the biggest factor is probably fear”, relates Carol
McGlone, MSW, LSW, director of the Social Work Department at Marian
Community Hospital. “A
woman may have been beaten down and intimidated to the point where she
feels as though no one is going to believe her, or no one will help her
if she tells about the abuse.”
Many women also
get caught in what is referred to as a “cycle of violence”.
After a violent episode, the abuser will typically be very
apologetic and loving, even showering his partner with gifts and
promises that things will get better.
And then he abuses her again.
Typically, each time it happens the abuse becomes worse and the
cycle becomes shorter. But
often the abuser is the woman’s main or sole, source of financial
support and affection, so she gets stuck in cycle. It is particularly hard for people who have been victims
their whole lives that the abuse isn’t normal.
Often they simply don’t know anything different.
violence is not about loss of temper,” according to the social worker.
“Domestic violence is about controlling someone.
There is no stereotypical abuser.
Abusers come from all walks of life.
They haven’t necessarily been abused as children, they aren’t
from a certain socioeconomic groups and most don’t have a major mental
illness. What they have on
common is the need to control.”
While women are
very hesitant to report the abuse situation, they often seek out medical
help, either for symptoms directly related to an abuse or prompted by
stress. While some abuse
situations are very apparent by the nature of the injuries, many more
women are treated in doctors’ offices and emergency departments daily
and silently suffer from abuse. One arena that remains accessible to women is the health care
“There is growing support
locally and nationally for the healthcare community to take a more
proactive role in recognizing signs of abuse and helping people who are
in abusive situations,” added the social worker.
“With training, support and knowledge of the area’s support
systems, medical personnel can ‘open a window’ for victims so they
can begin to take back control of their lives.”
each abuse situation is different and unique,” relates Carol Shoener,
Women’s Resource Center Domestic Violence Service Coordinator.
“People need to understand that leaving an abusive relationship
is a process, not an event, that may become long and drawn-out.
Statistics show that the average battered woman leaves the
relationship seven times before she leaves for good.
This can be very frustrating for her relatives and friends.
But it is important to understand that only the person in the
abusive relationship can decide when the time is right to leave.”
isolation and understanding options is important for any woman in an
abusive situation,” added Ms. Shoener.
“The first step is making contact with a supportive individual
or the Women’s Resource Center for information and support.
The Women’s Resource Center 24-hour Hotline – 346-4671 or
toll-free 1-800-257-5765 is staffed with trained counselors who daily
provide a wide variety of advice and information.
In Lackawanna County, one call to this hot line can provide a
network of information and resources.
Many times calls are simply informational, victims or family
members looking for a place to turn.
Often calls are more urgent; when a woman has walked out with her
children, with only the clothes on her back.
As a victim
begins to understand the abuse and its impact, she begins to gain
self-respect and concern for her survival.
If she has some time on her side, the Women’s Resource Center
counselors may suggest developing a plan that includes provisions for
leaving quickly in a safe manner. If things get out of hand for example, a basic element of the
plan is knowing alternate safe routes out of the house.
Counselors also suggest escape tools like some money,
transportation – either a car or friend with one, copies of important
documents, phone numbers and the like.
important to understand that as each abuser is different, each victim
reacts to the abuse differently, with various levels of risk,”
stressed Ms. Shoener. “Regardless
of their circumstances victims need to understand they are not alone,
that help can be begin with one phone call.”
behalf of Marian Community Hospital, a charter member of the NEPA
Women’s Health Alliance, sponsor of Connections: Health and Education
Services for Women.
Although Carol McGlone is no longer employed by Marian Community Hospital, the information in this article is still current.
© 2001 Marian Community Hospital, Carbondale, PA. All
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