What is family violence?
"Julie" pondered the question. She thought about the friend who offered Julie information about domestic violence. Did she think Julie was living in an unhealthy environment? Her? An abused person? The very idea puzzled her because she had thought she came from a good home. Everyone had problems, but for the most part, Julie thought, the home she and her husband provided for their children was stable and positive, given their circumstances. And her own mother had done a good job of assuring Julie and her siblings were accepted, wanted and loved.
But, maybe she missed something.
The Ohio Family Violence Prevention Project, instituted in 2007, presented three goals:
- Increase awareness of the scope and consequences of family violence in Ohio.
- Identify realistic and promising policies and programs for prevention.
- Build support for implementing recommended policies and programs.
Family violence is physical abuse, sexual abuse and/or emotional abuse between family members. Where one family member is dependent on another, neglect is another form of family violence which occurs within a trust relationship and is a pattern of behaviors occurring over time. Common types of family violence include child neglect and abuse, intimate partner abuse and elder abuse.
How common is the problem? There are estimates but no one knows for sure how common family violence is. Like Julie, many people probably don't know the definition or realize that it might apply to them. But family violence is directly related to some risky outcomes, as reported in "White Paper on Improving Family Violence Prevention in Ohio." Those risks include:
- Children who experience abuse or neglect are more likely to start drinking and smoking as teenagers and to be arrested as a juvenile.
- Adults are more likely to miss work, develop heart disease and obesity and attempt suicide.
- Intimate partner abuse affects mental health, injury, chronic pain, gastrointestinal disorders and other health issues.
- Children who witness intimate partner abuse are at greater risk for psychological, social and academic problems.
- Elders abused or neglected are likely to die.
"Respecting everyone prevents family violence," reports Tri-County Family Violence Coalition, a program of Help Hotline Crisis Center. In its April 2007 newsletter the agency defines respect:
- Treat others as you wish to be treated.
- Treat people with courtesy, politeness and kindness.
- Listen without interrupting when other people are speaking.
- Don't insult people, call them names, make fun of them or put them or their ideas down.
- Avoid constantly criticizing little things.
- Be considerate of opinions of others.
- Treat people the same no matter what their race, religion, gender, size, age or country of origin.
Respect. Julie saw examples all around her. To err is human, to forgive divine, she thought. She would think of these things and work on some self-improvement. She also had better clarity about home environment-presently and during the years she was growing up. Changes were needed. The only person she could change was herself. She wanted to be happy, and that begins inside. The first step is the hardest.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information about FRC, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about family violence contact the Tri-County Family Violence Coalition at www.FVIP.org.