The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Domestic abuse rising, officer says

By Charles Swanigon/reporter

Family violence has an impact on a wide range of people, not just the victims, an Arlington Police Department spokeswoman said recently.

“Family violence also affects the abuser, the family and the community,” Derrelynn Perryman, victim assistance coordinator, said during an April 3 NE Campus presentation on family violence.

Warning signs indicate family violence may be occurring or likely to escalate, but there are intervening techniques for victims or suspected victims.

Perryman said 92 percent of women in America say reducing domestic violence and sexual assault “should be our top priority.” Between February 1996 and 2005, the National Domestic Violence Hotline received more than 1.3 million calls.

The state of Texas alone had 186,868 incidents in 2006, Perryman said.

“One hundred twenty women were killed by their intimate partner,” she said.

Perryman said 12,356 adults received shelter from their abusive relationships, and 16,968 children received shelter. In addition, 23 percent of adults were denied shelter because of lack of space.

Another 36,250 received other help, such as counseling and legal advocacy.

Approximately 1.5 million women are raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year in the United States, according to a report from the National Institute of Justice in July 2000. 

“Women are less likely to be victims of violent crimes overall, but are five to eight times more likely to be victimized by an intimate partner,” Perryman said.

On average, three women are murdered every day by husbands or boyfriends.

“In 1996, 30 percent of all female murder victims were killed by their husbands or boyfriends,” she said.

Family violence affects children as well. According to a report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, children exposed to family violence run a strong risk of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.

Dating violence among adolescent girls increases the likelihood that a girl will abuse drugs and/or alcohol, develop an eating disorder, consider committing suicide and engage in risky sexual behavior. One in five adolescent girls will be physically and/or sexually abused in a dating relationship, and 40 percent of teenage girls, age 14 to 17, report knowing someone their age who have been hit or beaten by a boyfriend, according to theJournal of the American Medical Association.

“ Over 500,000 women are stalked by an intimate partner each year in the U.S.,” Perryman said.

Women are significantly more likely than men to be stalked by intimate partners with 78 percent of stalking victims women.

Perryman said violence often shifts to the children in the course of parental fighting.

“Accidental abuse happens during the course of parental fighting,” she said, “for example, if a mother drops her infant during a fight or the child is accidentally hit.”

Children are often blamed for marital problems, Perryman said. Disappointment in the relationship can shift to disappointment in the child.

Often when a victim of family violence cannot retaliate against the batterer, she takes her aggressions out on the child. Of course, Perryman said, the child will be included as a target of violence.

“The children are made to feel that they are responsible for all this,” she said.

Sexual abuse in violent families may be sanctioned by the other parent, Perryman said.

“Father-daughter incest is most common,” she said.

The wife may be aware of the incestuous activity, but does not intervene. However, Perryman said some spouses might not be aware of sexual abuse because they are too worried about their own survival.

Perryman said children exposed to family violence exhibit certain behavior. Brain development in infants is negatively affected by living with exposure to family violence.

Sometimes children will run away to escape their home situation, and violent behavior toward their parents can occur as teens and/or adults.

School becomes a place where children display frustration about their home life through violence against other children, animals or adults.

Theft and destruction of property are also common signs of family violence.

Introverted behavior is an attempt to avoid attention, Perryman said. This makes abuse hard to recognize. These children often fail to attend school. They stay home in an effort to protect one of the parents from the other.

“If they are present, then the fighting will not occur,” she said. “Older children from violent families may engage in excessive use of alcohol and drugs.”

When these children become adults, they might abuse their own children and/or spouses. More than half of children whose mothers are battered are likely to be abused themselves, and 76 percent of all crimes against persons are committed by juveniles from violent homes. Children who witness domestic violence between parents are up to 1,000 times more likely to be in violent relationships themselves.

For more information on sexual assault and other family violence issues, students can visit rain.org or call 1-800-656-hope.

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