Domestic Violence, Stalking, Sex Trafficking

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What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence Awareness Ribbon

Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death. The devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now.

It is not always easy to determine in the early stages of a relationship if one person will become abusive. Domestic violence intensifies over time. Abusers may often seem wonderful and perfect initially, but gradually become more aggressive and controlling as the relationship continues. Abuse may begin with behaviors that may easily be dismissed or downplayed such as name-calling, threats, possessiveness, or distrust. Abusers may apologize profusely for their actions or try to convince the person they are abusing that they do these things out of love or care. However, violence and control always intensifies over time with an abuser, despite the apologies. What may start out as something that was first believed to be harmless (e.g., wanting the victim to spend all their time only with them because they love them so much) escalates into extreme control and abuse (e.g., threatening to kill or hurt the victim or others if they speak to family, friends, etc.). Some examples of abusive tendencies include but are not limited to:1

  • Telling the victim that they can never do anything right (or manipulation through gaslighting)
  • Showing jealousy of the victim’s family and friends and time spent away
  • Accusing the victim of cheating
  • Keeping or discouraging the victim from seeing friends or family members
  • Embarrassing or shaming the victim with put-downs
  • Controlling every penny spent in the household
  • Taking the victim’s money or refusing to give them money for expenses
  • Looking at or acting in ways that scare the person they are abusing
  • Controlling who the victim sees, where they go, or what they do
  • Dictating how the victim dresses, wears their hair, etc.
  • Stalking the victim or monitoring their victim’s every move (in person or also via the internet and/or other devices such as GPS tracking or the victim’s phone)
  • Preventing the victim from making their own decisions
  • Telling the victim that they are a bad parent or threatening to hurt, kill, or take away their children
  • Threatening to hurt or kill the victim’s friends, loved ones, or pets
  • Intimidating the victim with guns, knives, or other weapons
  • Pressuring the victim to have sex when they don’t want to or to do things sexually they are not comfortable with
  • Forcing sex with others
  • Refusing to use protection when having sex or sabotaging birth control
  • Pressuring or forcing the victim to use drugs or alcohol
  • Preventing the victim from working or attending school, harassing the victim at either, keeping their victim up all night so they perform badly at their job or in school
  • Destroying the victim’s property

It is important to note that domestic violence does not always manifest as physical abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as extreme as physical violence. Lack of physical violence does not mean the abuser is any less dangerous to the victim, nor does it mean the victim is any less trapped by the abuse.

Additionally, domestic violence does not always end when the victim escapes the abuser, tries to terminate the relationship, and/or seeks help. Often, it intensifies because the abuser feels a loss of control over the victim. Abusers frequently continue to stalk, harass, threaten, and try to control the victim after the victim escapes. In fact, the victim is often in the most danger directly following the escape of the relationship or when they seek help: 1/5 of homicide victims with restraining orders are murdered within two days of obtaining the order; 1/3 are murdered within the first month.2

Unfair blame is frequently put upon the victim of abuse because of assumptions that victims choose to stay in abusive relationships. The truth is, bringing an end to abuse is not a matter of the victim choosing to leave; it is a matter of the victim being able to safely escape their abuser, the abuser choosing to stop the abuse, or others (e.g., law enforcement, courts) holding the abuser accountable for the abuse they inflict.

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now.


What is Stalking?

Stalking Symbol PNG

Stalking is defined as a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment made against the expressed wishes of another individual, which causes that individual to feel emotional distress including fear, harassment, intimidation or apprehension.

The legal definition of stalking is defined primarily by state statutes. However, virtually any unwanted contact between a stalker and their victim which directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear can generally be referred to as stalking.

Best estimates indicate that as many as 200,000 Americans are currently being stalked; moreover, 1 in 20 women will become targets of stalking behavior at least once during their lifetimes. With the passage of the 1994 Crime Bill by the U.S. Congress, which mandated the tracking and compilation of stalking crime statistics, experts will be able to determine the prevalence of this crime for the first time.

Types of Stalking

Stalking is a gender neutral crime, with both male and female perpetrators and victims. However, most stalkers are men. Best statistics indicate that 75-80 percent (75-80%) of all stalking cases involve men stalking women. Most tend to fall into the young to middle-aged categories. Most have above-average intelligence. Stalkers come from every walk of life and every socio-economic background. Virtually anyone can be a stalker, just as anyone can be a stalking survivor.

Examples of Stalking Behavior

Common behaviors and tactics used by stalkers include, but are not limited to:

  • Following or appearing within one’s sight.
  • Approaching or confronting someone in a public place or on private property.
  • Appearing at one’s workplace, home, or school.
  • Entering onto property someone owns, leases, or occupies.
  • Contacting someone by phone, postal mail, email, text, social networking sites, etc.
  • Placing or delivering an object to property that someone own, leases, or occupies.
  • Verbal threats.

Stalkers may attempt to woo their victim into a relationship by sending flowers, candy and love letters, in an attempt to "prove their love." However, when the victim spurns their unwelcome advances, the stalker often turns to intimidation. Such attempts at intimidation often begin in the form of an unjustified, jealous and inappropriate intrusion into the victim's life. Often these contacts become more numerous and intrusive over time, until such collective conduct becomes a persistent pattern of harassment. Many times, harassing behavior escalates to threatening behavior. Such threats may be direct or indirect and communicated explicitly or implicitly by the stalker's conduct. Unfortunately, cases that reach this level of seriousness too often end in violence and/or murder. These tactics are used by stalkers as a means of reasserting their dominance over the victim.

The evolution of the stalker's thought pattern progresses from, "If I can just prove to you how much I love you," to "I can make you love me," to "If I can't have you, nobody else will."

While this progression in behavior is common, no stalking case is completely predictable. Some stalkers may never escalate past the first stage. Others jump from the first stage to the last stage with little warning. It is not uncommon to see stalkers intersperse episodes of threats and violence with flowers and love letters.

It is this unpredictability that makes developing an effective response strategy so difficult in any particular stalking case.


What is Sex Trafficking?

Sex Trafficking is SLAVERY - Image Courtesy Unspoken Voices

Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States and globally.

Sex traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.

The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary dramatically. Many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces or manipulates them into prostitution. Others are lured in with false promises of a job, such as modeling or dancing. Some are forced to sell sex by their parents or other family members. They may be involved in a trafficking situation for a few days or weeks, or may remain in the same trafficking situation for years.

Victims of sex trafficking can be U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, women, men, children, and LGBTQ individuals. Vulnerable populations are frequently targeted by traffickers, including runaway and homeless youth, as well as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war, or social discrimination.

Sex trafficking occurs in a range of venues including fake massage businesses, via online ads or escort services, in residential brothels, on the street or at truck stops, or at hotels and motels.

Key Statistics

 

Do you need more information about domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or any other form of power based violence?