“I never thought it would happen to me.”
It’s a phrase often heard by survivors of domestic abuse. No one sets out to be in an abusive relationship. But it happens more frequently than many of us realize.
The best way to stop domestic abuse is to prevent it from happening in the first place. And while that isn’t always possible, there are actions we can take to ensure everyone gets what they deserve – a healthy, happy relationship free from physical or psychological abuse.
Risk Factors for Domestic Abuse
One in four women has experienced domestic violence. Two-thirds of children experience domestic abuse or trauma before adulthood. Studies show that abuse is often repeated throughout generations, making those who experience domestic abuse in childhood more likely to perpetuate the cycle when they’re grown.
However, domestic abuse – including psychological, financial, and verbal abuse – can happen to anyone. Intimate partner violence is more common than most people realize. And while many factors lead to domestic abuse, it’s never okay.
Preventing Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse prevention starts early – long before a relationship even forms. We can break the cycle of abuse by teaching our kids, teens, and young adults about healthy relationships. We can have honest conversations with our friends, family, and co-workers about domestic abuse, what it looks like, and how those we love can get help.
Educating Teens and Young Adults
One-third of kids will experience abuse or trauma before adulthood. That means some 66% of our young people have no idea what a healthy relationship should look and feel like.
Domestic abuse prevention starts early. Because so many children grow up in abusive homes, those children are more likely to experience abusive or become abusive themselves. We mimic what we see. Therefore, it’s vital we start including healthy relationship education as early as elementary school.
Children of all ages can learn about healthy coping skills, anger management, communication, and how to resolve conflict without violence or harsh words. The sooner our kids learn about healthy relationships, the less likely they will be to repeat harmful patterns in their own lives.
Training for Professionals
There is still a stigma surrounding domestic abuse. Teachers, coaches, and even co-workers at the office aren’t equipped to recognize domestic abuse warning signs. We can insist on mandatory training in our workplaces, schools, and religious centers, allowing others to learn about abuse and how to help the victims.
Providing Safe Spaces
Finally, prevention begins by creating a safe space to learn and share. Victims and survivors need a place where they can share their experiences and find healing. Through that process, survivors can overcome trauma, and we can have honest conversations about domestic abuse.
Abuse multiplies in the silence. We can prevent domestic violence by raising our voices – through education, advocacy, and support.