By Jean Cole
Domestic violence happens to women, children and men of all ages, races and economic backgrounds.
Most people have known such a victim at some time or another because the problem is pervasive.
During the month of October, those who have been domestic violence victims, those who love them, and those employed to help them combined efforts to raise public awareness of the problem. A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday at the Limestone County Courthouse Square to remember victims and to spread awareness of the problem.
“Domestic violence is about power and control,” said Christa Crabtree, Limestone County Victim Services coordinator for Crisis Services of North Alabama. “It is a pattern of abusive tactics used over time to gain power and control over another.”
While many think of battering when they think of domestic abuse, it is more than that. “Batterers regularly use other abusive behaviors that have been reinforced by one or more acts of physical violence,” Crabtree said. Behaviors include using looks and action to remind the victim what the batterer is capable of or what happened the last time he or she failed to follow orders, she said.
“Other tactics include emotional abuse — name calling, denigrating remarks and dehumanizing punishments,” Crabtree said.
Still others include isolation, preventing the victim from having friends or from contacting family members, she said.
Some abusers prevent the victim from a getting job, take away her money, threaten to take away her children or convince her she is a bad mother, Crabtee said.
“Some use religion as a tactic, selecting a certain passage from the Bible to keep the marriage intact and to reinforce the man’s right to be in charge,” she said.
If you are a domestic abuse victim considering escape, you can call the Athens office at 256-232-0280 or the 24-hour, seven-day-a-week help line at 256-716-1000.
“When they call, we offer a non-judgmental ear and options for safety,” Crabtree said. “We let them know the abuse is not their fault and no one deserves to be abused. We can offer safe, confidential service for her and her children.”
Sometimes victims are even relocated to a new area, she said.
Although women are typically the victims of domestic abuse, Crabtree said men also could be victims who can seek help through Crisis Services.
In addition to helping domestic violence victims, Crisis Services provides services that allow victims to talk about “their lives, their hurts and their successes,” she said.