Domestic violence awareness at Skyline

     When thinking of domestic violence people usually relate it to physical abuse, but domestic violence comes in many different styles and forms.
     Speakers from La Casa de las Madres Shelter and the Center For Domestic Violence Prevention said that these styles of abuse vary among relationships, they can be used to hurt a person physically, emotionally, financially, and socially. Domestic violence isn’t about just being physically abusive, it also means being sexually, verbally, financially and socially abusive towards a partner.
     Some of these styles are also used to black mail a person into staying in a relationship making them feel trapped and afraid to leave. Both speakers expressed that domestic abuse is simply stated as one having some form of power and control over another individual, typically in an intimate relationship.
     “If a person starts sounding like a parent or starts making all the choices in a relationship, that is a clear warning sign [of domestic abuse]” said Tagi Qolouvaki, teen outreach program coordinator for the Center For Domestic Violence Prevention, at the March 5 Domestic Violence seminar held here at Skyline.
     Its important to understand that if someone is controlling the actions of an individual, for example gives them a pager to know where they go, or controls their finances to know how they spend their money, or controls their social status needing to know what kind of friends they have, and so on. That these are indications and warning signs of abuse. They may not be the stereotypical styles of abuse, but they are signs of a person wanting control and power over an individual.
     “Many people are unaware that being called ‘stupid’ or ‘worthless’ is a form of abuse,” said Lisa Polacci of the La Casa de las Madres Shelter, another speaker at the seminar. “It’s because these women have grown up in environments where this style of abuse is accepted therefore they don’t see it as wrong.” This is important for men and women to learn that although domestic abuse was in their home environment that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right way to treat the people you love.
     Speakers from both centers made it clear that not all relationships start out abusive, in fact most start out like any other relationship with a time period of getting to know one another. Its not until the abuser feels the victim might stay in the relationship that they begin to show their true nature. They become more aggressive and controlling over the actions of the victim and more demanding of their time.
     Polacci explained that these relationships go through the phases of being in a domestic violence relationship. These phases are as follows:
   1.Tension: the arguments, trust issues, stress, annoyances, cheating etc. Then comes the phase
   2. Abuse (Explosion): social, financial, physical, verbal, sexual. These make the victim feel self conscious and humiliated. Finally is phase
   3. Apology: the abuser apologizes for their behavior, buys gifts for the victim, tells them they love them, and romances them. This final stage is what lures the victim back to the relationship because this is the person they fell in love with.
     If the victims do not become aware of these phases in their relationship, then the cycle of behavior repeats itself said Polacci.
     These phases are not solely for those who are physically abused, they occur in all styles of domestic abuse and should not be looked upon lightly. Eventually the apology phase disappears causing the abuse and explosions to become more severe.
     Polacci also noted that when a victim recognizes these phases and wants to make a change it’s important that they know help is available.
     When friends and family approach an abused victim, it is important not to encourage them to leave the relationship.
     “Women are more likely to be killed when they just up and leave a relationship,” says Polacci. “Instead of telling them what is best for them, you should suggest to them the options they have on how they can get themselves out of a domestic violent relationship.”
     Polacci made it clear that women who try and leave a domestic violent relationship need to make themselves safe rather then put them in compromising positions.
     Both Polacci and Qolouvaki expressed that calling a hotline or seeking help from a domestic violence counselor is safer for a victim, then for them to handle the situation themselves. The Health Center has pamphlets and brochures available to anyone interested in obtaining more information on domestic violence.