As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Thomas Nelson Community College will focus on domestic violence, dating violence and human trafficking, a problem becoming more prevalent in Hampton Roads. An event to educate students and College personnel about human trafficking is slated for Oct. 18 at the Hampton campus in the Wythe Hall Gallery. Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring along with the Honorable Howard Gwynn of Newport News and the Honorable Anton Bell of Hampton have been invited to speak during the noon to 2 p.m. event.
Representatives from Herring’s Taskforce on Human Trafficking have also been invited, and lunch will be provided. More details about the Oct. 18 event will be available soon.
Domestic violence is force, violence or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable fear of death, sexual assault or bodily injury, and is committed by a victim’s family or household member. Offenders include a victim’s current or former spouse, a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, or who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the person as a spouse or intimate partner.
Know the signs of domestic violence
If you suspect that someone you know is a victim of domestic and family violence, watch for some possible indicators. The person may:
- seem intimidated or frightened by their partner or withdrawn or reluctant to speak, and the children may seem timid, frightened or too well behaved in the partner's presence;
- be overly anxious to please their partner;
- say their partner constantly follows, rings or texts them wanting to know where they are, what they are doing and who they are with;
- be regularly criticized or verbally put down by their partner in front of you
- say their partner is jealous and possessive and accuses them of having affairs with other people;
- refer to their partner or family member having a bad temper or being moody, especially when they have been drinking;
- repeatedly have bruises, broken bones, or other injuries claimed as the result of falls or other accidents;
- wear inappropriate clothing in summer months such as scarves and long sleeves or wear heavy make-up and sunglasses inside to hide signs of physical abuse
- often be late to work or appointments or cancel meetings with you at the last minute;
- stop seeing or speaking with you, friends and family;
- say their partner controls the money (i.e. gives them none or not enough and makes them account for every cent that is spent).
How you might respond
The initial discussion about domestic and family violence can be difficult. A controlling partner often blames the victim for the violence, so an abused person may be afraid of being judged and be defensive.
- Only try to start a conversation if the person is alone in a place where it is safe to speak with you and there is enough time to talk about the issue. The victim may be willing to talk if they feel safe and trust you to keep their situation to yourself. Questions such as "I am worried about you because I don't get to see you often anymore" or "You look unhappy lately" may help get the conversation started.
- Believe what the person tells you. They are more likely to downplay the abuse rather than exaggerate it. Many abusers are charming to others. What you see of their behavior may be very different to their behavior towards their partner.
- Listen and it’s important that you are not judgmental or critical. Do not tell them what to do but help them to explore options that are available.
- Let them know you care and ask them how you can help when the person is finished talking. Make it clear that it is the person using violent or abusive behavior who is responsible for their behavior and not them. The person experiencing the violence or abuse cannot make a person stop being abusive, no matter how hard they try.
- Let them know there are organizations that can help, including services to help them escape the violence if that's what they want to do. If you think it's important to seek professional assistance, encourage the person to do this on their own behalf. A list of these services are available at http://tncc.edu/services/counseling/students.
- If you think you might need to seek professional advice to help you better assist your friend or family member, it is important to let them know that you might do this. Reassure them that you can discuss the situation with the professional organization without revealing their name or any identifying details.
- Remain their friend even if they continue to stay in the relationship. At the same, time remind them that everyone has the right to live free from violence. If they want to go to a refuge or safe place, support them to do so. If they are in immediate danger, call 911 or the Thomas Nelson Police at 757-825-2732.
For additional information about domestic violence, please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline at http://www.thehotline.org/help/help-for-friends-and-family/.