October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and experts nationwide are spotlighting violence in relationships.
Earlier this month, the Willow Domestic Violence Center released it’s annual report to the community, which found a total of 4,789 reports of domestic violence in Monroe County. Experiences are mostly evenly split with 52 percent of the reports coming from the city and 48 percent originating in the city. However, experts caution that focusing on demographics can be misleading because anyone can be at risk of abuse.
“Domestic violence and abuse do not discriminate,” states helpguide.org. “Abuse happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. And while women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused—especially verbally and emotionally. The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.”
“It sneaks up on you,” said Callista Frank, a 30-year-old resident of the South Wedge. She said she’d lived with her boyfriend for a year before he abused her when she was 24-years-old. She recently opened up to Open Mic Rochester about a short relationship she was in fresh out of college.
“He was just kind of mean at first and honestly I got tired of it,” she said. She explained that he’d have a rough day and sometimes snap at her or, already temperamental, blame her for things outside of her control. “I told him, just honestly, I didn’t like the way he was sometimes and he pushed me. I didn’t even see it as abuse at first. We’d just gotten into a fight to me.”
“Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partner.”
The abuse, experts say, also isn’t always immediate. Significant others can seem nice and normal at the start of the relationship but then begin exhibiting “textbook behaviors” of abusers like jealousy, controlling behavior, and isolation. New Hope for Women offers a list of red flags people should watch out for in new partners.
The Willow Center advises anyone facing an abusive situation to seek help and offered advice to those who feel outside of the fray; listen. Often, victims of domestic abuse aren’t believed when they try to report the behavior so the Center said simply listening and believing the victim can be a first step.