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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence usually refers to intimate partners, but elder abuse and child abuse can follow a similar pattern, and can be preventable with some of the same measures. Prevention also involves detection. Victims are frequently reluctant to speak out. So it often falls to a third party to discern a potential problem. Rideout Health professionals are trained to spot the signs of abuse and take appropriate action in the best interest of their patients. But everyone can be alert to the signs of someone in distress.

Recognizing Signs of Domestic Violence

Someone may be the victim of domestic violence if he/she:

  • has multiples instances of injuries explained away by falls or other mishaps
  • seems to find moving or walking painful, or has a stiff or unsteady gait
  • appears wearing sunglasses, heavy makeup, long-sleeved garments
  • is frequently absent from work, school or other regular commitments
  • has begun abusing alcohol or other substances
  • is easily startled
  • has undergone a personality change, such as becoming withdrawn, passive or sad
  • receives frequent calls and/or visits from the partner

While it is important for a victim to receive help from medical and/or law enforcement professionals, you can help by asking if something is wrong, expressing concern, listening and validating and offering to help the victim connect with professionals. It is not your responsibility to solve the problem or confront the victimizer.

In the case of elder abuse, the victim is often never seen outside the home, which would not in itself be alarming since the elderly may have less mobility due to disease or general infirmity. A warning flag would be that the person's caretakers were not allowing home visits or phone calls. If allowed in the home, look for signs of poor hygiene, physical restraints and/or an isolated location. If you suspect the abuse of an older person, you can make a confidential phone call to your County's Adult Protective Services. Again, it is not your responsibility to solve the problem or confront the alleged victimizer. By making the anonymous report, you have already done a great service.

Are you the Victim?

The answer to that question is plain and simple. If your intimate partner physically assaults you, you are the victim of domestic violence, and your partner has committed a crime. Most injuries require medical attention; do not hesitate to dial 911. Physicians, nurses and social workers at the hospital can direct you to the assistance you need to avoid further harm.

If you have been assaulted more than once, you must take action. Forget about embarrassment, forget your abuser's intimidation and threats. Get out and get help. If you have children, this is even more imperative. Do not engage in wishful thinking that things will change magically on their own; they will not. It is up to you to break the pattern, break the cycle of abuse. Things can change, there is hope, but only when the abuser gets professional help.

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For more information about Rideout's Trauma services, click here.

Remember, if you or another has been injured, dial 911 immediately!