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‘No Excuse for Abuse’

Article Published 09/22/2014

Heartbreaking and tragic stories are continually in the news involving domestic violence. Murder-suicides, death of whole families, assaults on girlfriends and the list could go on and on. 
As each new story breaks, the comments are frequently the same: Why does she stay? … she should just leave … it must not be so bad because she keeps going back to him, etc.  
To understand domestic violence, you must understand this: it doesn’t make sense and it’s killing those we love.
Know the characteristics of an abusive personality: Domestic violence is not a new problem. Sadly it has been occurring for centuries and spans across all cultures, genders, age groups, income levels, and sexual orientations. 
Over half of all criminal prosecutions in Layton City last year involved domestic violence crimes. There are many characteristics of an abusive personality. These include, but are not limited to: jealousy, controlling and possessive behaviors, isolation of victim from friends and family, blaming others for problems, threats to kill partner, kids, pets or even self, throwing objects or breaking items, easily insulted, overly critical, name calling, rigid gender expectations in both daily roles as well as intimacy, and abusive to past partners.   
Understand what the cycle of violence looks like: The cycle of violence is often recognizable and cyclic. It begins in the relationship with kind acts and loving displays of devotion, but over time tension starts to build and the victim cannot do enough to please the abuser.  Eventually the abuser explodes in either (or both) an emotional or physical assault on the victim. Following the eruption the abuser then expresses sorrow and makes promises of things improving; gifts may be given or engages in other acts to convince the victim they should stay in the relationship. 
These acts and displays of renewed devotion continue until, over time, tension starts to build again, and so forth as the cycle picks up speed again. 
Identify what help is available: The Layton City Attorney’s Office has a victim advocate to help provide resources and act as a liaison between the victims, the prosecutor and the court.  
This victim assistance is provided at no charge to the victim and is a great starting point for connecting with other valuable resources pertaining to financial assistance, housing, counseling resources, etc.   Protective Orders and Stalking Injunctions may be obtained through this program as well.  
Make a safety plan: Safety plans may look different, depending on the issues within the abusive relationship.  Some things to consider in developing a safety plan for yourself or someone you care about include: identifying an escape route from locations where abuse frequently occurs, keep money and an extra set of keys available somewhere safe and accessible, avoid fighting in the bathroom, kitchen, garage or other areas with hard surfaces or potential weapons, know where the women’s shelter is located, inform neighbors of abuse so they can help call police or provide protection, talk to someone about the emotional ‘hooks’ that contribute to being trapped in abuse, and attend a workshop or support group.
The fight against domestic violence is not that of an individual. Changes will have to be made within families, churches, cultures, news media, government, etc.
There is no excuse for abuse and unless we raise our children to understand that truth, domestic violence will continue to evolve from generation to generation.  Know the characteristics and know the resources. 
-For more information call Layton Victim Services at 801-336-3599 or Safe Harbor Crisis Center at 801-444-3191.