October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is asking San Diegans to “break the silence, stop the violence.”
“We’re trying to convey the message that there are a lot of services out there that are available to victims,” Detective Angela Pearl said. “I think it’s important year-round that victims are aware of this.”
Last year, the department handled 3,780 domestic violence cases. But most cases are not reported to law enforcement. According to the department, one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
Pearl noted that although the majority of domestic violence victims are women, men are victims as well. Another misconception, she said, is that domestic violence only occurs among young, heterosexual couples.
Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior by an intimate partner against another. It affects individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, or if you suspect your friend or loved one has been abused, “tell somebody,” Pearl said.
“The victims think that they’re alone, that this isn’t happening to anyone else. It is,” Pearl said. “It’s very hard for a lot of victims to do this, but if they just take that first initial step by either calling the DV hotline or reporting it to law enforcement, or even just talking to a loved one or a close friend about what's going on, that I think would be is the most vital step for them to get help.”
Tips compiled from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department website.
Signs of an abusive relationship that may result in domestic violence:
- Your partner exhibits extreme jealousy
- You are overly concerned about what kind of mood your partner is in
- Your partner prevents you from seeing your friends or family, or alienates them so that they are uncomfortable being around
- Your partner threatens to hurt or kill you, your children, your family, friends or pets
- Your partner yells at you, reprimands you, or demeans you in public
- Your partner hits, slaps, pushes or shoves you, pulls your hair, or inflicts physical injury on you in any way
- Your partner prevents you from getting or keeping a job
- Your partner keeps you from leaving the house or locks you out of the house.
If you need help, here's what you can do:
- Contact the San Diego Sheriff’s Department at 858-565-5200.
- Call the San Diego County Domestic Violence 24-hour hotline 1-888-DVLINKS (385-4657) for emergency assistance or ongoing needs.
- Leave your home or have someone stay with you. Go to a battered-women’s shelter.
- Get medical attention from your doctor or hospital emergency room. Ask the staff to photograph your injuries and keep detailed records in case you decide to take legal action.