Domestic violence refers to any act of violence or aggression against a partner or spouse. It can occur in any relationship, including marriages, dating relationships, and cohabitation. Domestic violence often occurs in cycles of abuse, with one partner abusing the other repeatedly. The abuser may use physical violence, emotional abuse, threats, intimidation, or isolation to control and terrorize the victim.
Statistics on Domestic Violence in Tennessee
Tennessee is among the states with the highest rates of domestic violence. According to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), more than one-third of Tennessee women and about one-third of Tennessee males have experienced (or will experience) some kind of intimate relationship abuse, rape, or stalking at some point in their lives. The majority of these incidents involved not only intimate partners (spousal violence), but also violence between ex-partners.
Causes of Domestic Violence
There is often no one single cause of domestic violence. Rather, it is the result of a complex mix of individual, relationship, community, and societal factors.
Some of the individual factors that may contribute to domestic violence include anger management issues, substance abuse, and mental health problems. Relationship factors can include power and control dynamics, financial insecurity, and addiction. Community factors can include low educational attainment, poverty, as well as environmental exposure to racism and discrimination.
There are also societal factors that may contribute to domestic violence. One example is the way that gender roles are socialized in some societies. Boys are often taught that they need to be strong and dominant, while girls are often taught to be submissive and nurturing. This can lead to a situation in which one partner feels entitled to control the other.
Domestic Violence and Children
When a child is exposed to domestic violence in their home, they can experience a variety of negative outcomes. The physical and psychological effects of witnessing domestic violence can be extremely harmful to a child’s development and well-being. Some of the common issues that children who are exposed to domestic violence face include anxiety, depression, problems with sleeping and eating, as well as aggression and behavioral problems.
Signs of Domestic Violence
There are many signs that someone is experiencing domestic violence, which may be physical or emotional. They may include:
- Physical Abuse: Signs that someone is experiencing physical abuse can include but are not limited to: bruises, black eyes, cuts, broken bones, sprains, and internal injuries. Oftentimes, victims of physical abuse will have difficulty walking, speaking, or breathing. They may also exhibit signs of shock, such as a pale face, sweating, and dilated pupils.
- Emotional Abuse: Signs of emotional abuse can vary in intensity and type but often include isolating the victim from friends and family, constant criticism, verbal assaults, and threats. Emotional abuse can be incredibly damaging to a person’s psyche and can leave them feeling helpless, alone, and scared. Victims of emotional abuse may also struggle with low self-esteem and depression.Unlike physical abuse, which often leaves visible scars, emotional abuse can be more subtle and insidious. Victims of emotional abuse may avoid friends and family, have trouble sleeping or eating, or feel trapped in the relationship; it involves a pattern of behavior that gradually erodes the victim’s self-esteem and independence.
- Sexual Abuse: Bruises, cuts, scratches, bite marks, and other injuries are common in this case. Behavioral changes may also be apparent, such as withdrawal from friends or family, changes in eating or sleeping habits, or an overall decrease in activity. Victims of sexual abuse may also exhibit emotional symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Financial Abuse: Financial abuse generally refers to any behavior that diminishes or restricts another person’s control over their own finances. Financial abuse can take many different forms, such as restricting access to money, refusing to share financial information, or using money to manipulate or control someone.Financial abuse is often an indicator of domestic violence, and can be one of the most difficult forms of abuse to identify. The abuser may use financial means to manipulate or intimidate the victim, for example, by threatening to take away their children or home if they do not comply with the abuser’s demands.
- Threats and Intimidation: Threats and intimidation in a relationship can manifest in several ways. For example, one partner may consistently make verbal threats such as “I’ll hurt you if you leave me,” or “I’ll make your life a living hell.” Warning signs are often noted when a partner begins to isolate their significant other from friends and family, or when they start to monitor their activities and movements a little too closely.
- Isolation: One sign of isolation is when one partner ceases to communicate with friends and family. This can be an indicator that the individual is withdrawing from their support system and becoming more dependent on their partner. Other signs of isolation can include spending excessive time with one’s partner, not taking care of oneself, and feeling as if there is no one else on whom to rely.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs, it is important to reach out for help.
What to Do if You are a Victim of Domestic Violence
If you are a victim of domestic violence in Tennessee, it is important to take action to protect yourself and your children. You should first get an attorney to help you understand your legal rights and options. In the meantime, you may also want to seek alternative shelter or other support services. You can then decide to file for a restraining order to keep your abuser away from you.
How to Help a Friend or Family Member Who is a Victim of Domestic Violence
If you are a friend or family member of someone who is a victim of domestic violence, and they come up to you, the most important thing you can do is to believe them. Many victims of domestic violence feel ashamed or embarrassed, so it is important to let them know that you support them and that you are there for them.
Then, the best thing you can do is help them find an attorney. Victims of domestic violence need legal assistance to protect themselves from their abuser and to get the resources they need to start over. An attorney can help the victim file for a restraining order, negotiate child custody arrangements, and get financial support. Victims of domestic violence will need proper counsel to deal with the emotional trauma they have experienced.
Are you or someone you know a victim of domestic violence? Think about it. One in three people in Tennessee will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. That’s millions of people.
Now, imagine if there were attorneys who could help them get out of that situation. Attorneys who have experience working with law enforcement and social service agencies to provide the best possible support for their clients. That’s what we do at 615-NASH-LAW.
We provide legal aid to victims of domestic violence, so they can get the help they need. So, if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please do not hesitate to contact us so we may get started on your case.