By Leslie Jarvis, Greenlee County Attorney’s Office
How many know that October is Domestic Violence Month? Many may not even be aware that domestic violence affects people from all walks of life: men and women, old and young, rich and poor. Domestic violence may often be mistaken as only acts of physical violence, but this is a myth. Domestic violence takes many forms. Sometimes, it may take the stereotypical form of black eyes, broken bones, or other physical injuries. Other times, it may be much more subtle, even to the victims. Constant belittlement, name-calling, over-possessiveness, gaslighting, and isolation, are examples of some ways domestic violence may manifest that might not be immediately apparent. Whether domestic violence is obvious and violent or subtle and apparently painless, it can leave mental and emotional scars that can take a lifetime to heal.
Perpetrators of domestic violence have a history of apologies and promises. Victims often do not realize that taking back or forgiving an abusive partner, friend, or family member will likely result in an eventual repeat of the abuse. In fact, according to the Center for Court Innovation, there is approximately a 31% rate of re-arrest within one year and an increase to approximately 44% within two years for those convicted of domestic violence offenses. Unfortunately, true reflections of how often domestic violence incidents occur do not exist; it is estimated that most domestic violence offenses go unreported.
Cases of domestic violence have a negative impact on all parties, not just the direct victim. Witnessing domestic violence as a child increases the likelihood that the child will grow up to relive the same behaviors. Some may enter eventual relationships of their own never realizing that domestic violence is not the norm. Some may realize that these types of relationships are toxic but be unable to recognize and accept relationships that do not mirror what they know. Still, others may fear relationships and avoid close association with others to control their environment.
Many victims of domestic violence blame the behaviors of their partners on themselves, never realizing that there is never an excuse for abuse. No one should ever be made to feel as though they deserve to be mistreated, though sadly, it happens more often than we might think. There are many reasons that victims of domestic violence may choose, or feel they are unable, to leave a toxic relationship: fear that they will be unable to keep children with them, fear of harm to pets left behind, fear of financial instability, feelings that they deserve what is happening to them, belief that the partners’ behavior will stop, simple lack of knowledge about programs that exist to support them, and the list goes on.
The Greenlee County Attorney’s Office offers physical and legal support to those who choose to take part in cases against their abusers, as well as those who are victims of many other types of crime. We can also point victims in the direction of facilities and resources that can help victims of domestic violence, as well as sexual assault. Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 5:30 p.m., our Victim Advocates will be attending Light Up the Night at Fernandez Park in Clifton. This event is hosted by Mt. Graham Safe House, an organization located in Safford, Arizona that offers emergency shelter, victim advocacy, and many other services. For more information about the Mt. Graham Safe House, call 1-888-269-9104.
The Victim Advocates of the Greenlee County Attorney’s office are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can reach out to us at (928) 865-4108.