By: Casandra L. Ringlespaugh, Attorney

Every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice. Although intimate partner physical violence affects both men and women, women are much more likely be severely physically abused, with statistically 1 in 3 women as compared to 1 in 7 men who have been reported to be victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Moreover, battery is the single major cause of injury to women, exceeding rapes, muggings, and auto accidents combined. In the United States, intimate partner violence accounts for approximately 15% of all violent crime according to a U.S. Department of Justice special report on nonfatal domestic violence. In a staggering statistic, 2 out of every 3 female homicides in the U.S. were at the hand of an intimate partner between 1980 and 2008.

Unfortunately, domestic violence cases often come hand in hand with domestic relations (divorce) cases. The statistics reveal a person is at the greatest risk of injury or death by an abusive intimate partner at the time that he or she actually ends and attempts to leave the relationship. In fact, approximately 75% of women who are killed by their abusers are murdered when they attempt to leave or after they have left an abusive relationship.

October is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Unfortunately, most domestic violence incidents will never be reported. Speaking up and breaking the silence in the cycle of abuse can save yours or your children’s lives. If you are experiencing a domestic violence situation, there are a few things you should know.

What is domestic violence?

  • Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual and psychological attacks. Domestic or family violenceis when a family or household member harms or threatens to harm you, (or your children), places you in fear of physical harm, forces you to engage in sexual activity, or stalks you.

Even if your children are not the target of the physical abuse, they are greatly affected.

  • Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates (30% to 60%).
  • More than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year.
  • Children exposed to domestic violence at home are more likely to have health problems, including becoming sick more often, having frequent headaches or stomachaches, and being more tired and lethargic.
  • Children are more likely to intervene when they witness severe violence against a parent – which can place a child at great risk for injury or even death.

When to ask for help?

  • Domestic Violence can affect your physical and mental health, as well as be very damaging economically. Apart from the violent crime statistics above, domestic violence victims face high rates of depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks, and other emotional distress. Domestic violence contributes to poor health for many survivors including chronic conditions such as heart disease or gastrointestinal disorders. Victims tend to be isolated and may be controlled financially by abusers.
  • Without help, children who are witness to domestic abuse are much more likely to become abusers themselves, or to fall victim to abuse in future relationships, thus continuing the cycle of violence in the next generation.

What can I do if I am a victim of domestic violence?

  • Contact the police. If you are in an emergency situation, call 911.
  • Contact Your Local Agency. If you are the victim of domestic or sexual violence, or if you believe you or your children are in danger of being harmed by someone in your life, there is help for you.  Throughout the state of Indiana, hundreds of trained advocates work every day to help victims find safety, and in many situations a protection order can be a useful tool. For help finding an advocate or shelter, or for more information about domestic violence, visit theIndiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) website or call their 24-hour statewide hotline at 800.332.7385.
  • We may be able to help. If you are a victim of domestic violence, attorneys at Cohen and Malad may be able to help you.

When can I get an Order of Protection?

You can get an Order of Protection if you are a victim of:

  1. Domestic or family violence;
  2. A sexual offense; OR
  3. Stalking.

Additionally, a parent or guardian can file a petition for an Order of Protection for a child.

For more information, contact me.

Help change the statistics. Speak up, speak out, and make a difference.