When looking at the status of women in San Antonio, the statistics are staggering. Bexar County has the highest murder rate of women per capita in Texas, at 1.8 murders by male intimate partners per 100,000 females. For comparison, the rate in Harris, Dallas and Travis County are 1.2, 0.6 and 0.5.
In 2018, 28 people died from domestic violence in Bexar County. 28 too many. How can this end? Recognizing domestic violence can prevent abuse that leads to death.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is often limited in definition to physical abuse, such as a slap, punch or a kick. However, there are other types of domestic violence. Understanding the types of violence that one may be exposed to is crucial to escaping the cycle and beginning the healing process in order to live a healthier, happier, and more fulfilled life. MedicineNet and the American Psychological Association identify five types of violence that we refer to on our website.
Types of Violence
- Emotional Abuse Before physical abuse begins, violence often begins verbally. Verbal abuse is a form of emotional, mental and psychological abuse described as “using words to criticize, demean, or otherwise decrease the confidence of the wife, husband, or other intimate partner victim.” The abuse can be delivered through covert attacks with sarcasm or snide remarks, or overt insults and name-calling. Derogatory pet-names, such as “my little fattie,” although masked as terms of endearment, are condescending. Even being told to “man up,” which attacks one’s femininity or masculinity/selfhood, is a form of abuse. Whether covert, overt, accepted as routine or “normal,” emotional abuse belittles a person and erodes the confidence of victims over time. Verbal abuse gives way for other forms of psychological or emotional abuse outlined by the American Medical Association in Intimate Partner Abuse and Relationship Violence.
Physical Abuse The most overt form of abuse typically associated with domestic abuse is not limited to but includes hitting, punching, choking, stalking, shooting, and murdering. Physical abuse is often combined with other types of domestic violence.
- Sexual Abuse Using sex to control or demean the victim is sexual abuse, even if the perpetrator is an intimate partner. Examples of sexual abuse include intimidating the victim into engaging in unsafe sex, (e.g., refusal to wear a condom), or intimidating the victim into engaging in sexual practices in which the victim does not want to participate. Withholding intimacy as a means to control is also abusive.
- Financial Abuse Limiting financial freedom through controlled spending, medical care. and controlling access to funds, especially if with the victim’s own money, is financial abuse.
- Spiritual Abuse Using spirituality, religion or other systemic sets of belief to control a person is spiritual abuse. Spiritual abuse can happen on a higher level through spiritual leaders manipulating victims for control over their mind, will and emotions. A victim of a traumatic car accident convinced to believe God willed him or her to crash because they are an evil person is spiritual manipulation. A victim being forced to participate in the batterer's religious practice instead of their own is being spiritually abused.
Cycle of Violence
There tends to be a cycle of behavior in abusive relationships, which includes tension building, explosive behavior following the honeymoon stage. For example, the abuser buying the victim flowers, or any other object as a token for forgiveness.
History of Violence
The global history of domestic violence stretches far beyond the last century. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade shipped millions of Africans throughout the Americas for centuries of subjugation and violence through chattel slavery. African men and women were also sexually abused for punishment and pleasure.
In Mexico, incest was part of the culture in the indigos culture. Mexican women were exploited and subsequently forced to bear their own brothers and sisters as sons and daughters.
Virtually all of the world's societies view or have viewed women as less valuable than men. From assaults of women for attending school, "honor" killings of women for being victims of sexual violence or even having premarital sex in some countries.
Who is Affected by Violence?
Domestic violence is a major public health problem it affects millions of people. 2 million women in the US are victims of violence and 800,00 men reported in the US.
Effects of Violence
The effects of domestic violence in women are great. Between 25%-50% of women in violence become homeless. $6 billion in cost goes to healthcare and disability for women in violence. They struggle to raise their children due to feeling uncertain about their environment. The victims of violence also suffer from discrimination obtaining various types of insurance. They are vulnerable to develop anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Due to domestic violence women may develop PTSD.
Although there is no specific cause for domestic violence, the highest risk for being a victim of violence is when the male partner uses drugs or abuses alcohol, afflicted by poverty, has not graduated high school, and is unmarried in a heterosexual relationship.
Why do women stay with abusers? Women trapped in violence have frequent headaches, stomachaches, sleep problems and other physical ails. These physiological problems compound the psychological hardships that victims face often leading to distress and a state of paralysis that further keeps them in an abusive situation. However, when given the proper resources, by even recognizing violence, victims can take steps towards escaping violence. For women that have not been treated for violence but do manage to leave the relationship, they will continue with the cycle of violence by finding another abuser or they will become abusers themselves.
Healing from Violence
Healing from domestic violence is crucial to developing a future, healthy relationship. It is also fundamental to restoring sustainable peace and order to your life. World of Hope Counseling Center is designed to assist you or someone you know who needs to escape violence in receiving holistic healing by collaboratively moving towards reaching your goals. Therapy is about learning, healing, and reforming.
San Antonio Domestic Violence Resources
Shelter, Healthcare, Legal Services, etc.
126 East Nueva St 2nd Floor San Antonio, TX 78204
Day / Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday / 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Phone (TTY): 1-800-787-3224
Phone and online chat available 24/7/365 también en español
Safer Path Family Violence Shelters (Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Frio, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Karnes, Kendall, Kerr, McMullen, Medina, Wilson)
Phone and online chat available 24/7/365 también en español