April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, here in the United States, “one in three women and one in six men experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime.”
Sexual violence may be broadly defined as the act of forcing, manipulating, or coercing someone into unwanted, non-consensual sexual activity.
For those unfamiliar with the intricacies of domestic-violence, it’s simple to scoff and say, “If I were her, I would pack up and leave,” or “Why doesn’t he just change the locks and his phone number?” But the complexities of domestic violence, also referred to as intimate-partner violence (IPV), are anything but simple. It entails physical pain, emotional anguish and psychological distress on behalf of the abused individual along with their family, friends and coworkers.
According to the United States Department of Justice, domestic violence is defined as a pattern of manipulative behavior, including acts or threatened acts, used by a perpetrator to gain power and control over a current or former spouse, family member, intimate partner, or person with whom the perpetrator shares a child. It occurs in heterosexual and same-sex relationships and impacts individuals from all economic, educational, cultural, age, gender, racial and religious demographic. While power and control reside at the core of domestic violence, the makeup of an abusive relationship can often be hidden in a range of dynamic actions taken by the batterer against the abused.