Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,
A common perception still today is that domestic violence is often considered a personal private problem and shouldn’t be exposed.
Some attitudes in the United States have changed over the past decades.
The 1994 Violence Against Women Act pushed justice systems across the country to take domestic violence seriously and treat it as a crime—a landmark victory making it easier for police officers and first responders to deal with intimate partner violence. But a survey of 500 elected U.S. sheriffs found many felt neutral or agreed with common myths about violence against women like why don’t they just leave?
Another myth is that abusers—especially the charismatic and respectable ones in public—suddenly snap when they hurt their partners. Research shows abuse is almost always a pattern of behavior. Abusers aren’t out of control; they use violence as a tool for control.
Often, violence goes unreported or hidden before becoming noticeable to either first responders or friends and family. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that, between 2006 and 2015, an average of 600,000 incidents of domestic violence went unreported each year. Only 34 percent of people harmed by partners received medical attention for their injuries. Many victims keep silent out of fear of reprisal or escalation. Leaving the relationship is worse. Abusers typically get more violent when their victims leave. Separation is often called the most dangerous time for victims.
Intimate partner violence follows predictable patterns. It’s almost never a one-off incident. It’s not a matter of victims provoking their abusers or of abusers being out of control. The issue of who is at fault isn’t complicated. It’s always the abuser or abusers being out of control. The issue of who’s at fault isn’t complicated. It’s always the abuser. People are victimized by partners across race, class, gender, education and geographic lines—it isn’t a private family matter. It’s a major public health issue that affects close to 10 million Americans every year.
In my novel SOMETHING TO BE BRAVE FOR, Katie must deal with the fact that her parents will not support her when she decides to leave her abusive husband Claude who controls all the finances. She has to find a way to freedom with her child without reporting it to the police. Claude, the famous plastic surgeon, would pay them off, and Katie would suffer further brutality with the fear she wouldn’t survive.
Take good care of yourselves,
PRISCILLA BENNETT XOXO