Domestic violence is often a hidden, unreported crime that unknowingly affects everyone.
Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Muslim American Society and Coalition Against Senseless Violence held a seminar on Saturday at Wichita State to educate the community about it.
“Education is so important,” said Detective Dwain Diehl, of the Wichita Police Department Sex Crimes and Domestic Violence Unit. “We need to quit making this a hidden problem and instead bring it to the forefront.”
Dorthy Stucky Halley, director of the Victim Services Division for the Office of the Attorney General, said domestic violence is thought of as a private affair.
“The most prevalent thought is that domestic violence is domestic battery,” she said.
Roughly 60 percent of domestic violence cases begin with verbal abuse, followed by an explosion and an apology.
“Where you see that cycle going on, it often gets worse and worse,” Halley said.
Diehl said domestic violence is not exclusively physical abuse and may begin without any physical violence. Emotional abuse, psychological abuse and verbal threats are classified as domestic violence.
“If it offends you, if it belittles you, it’s wrong,” Diehl said.
It also is not limited to males abusing females or by sexual orientation.
“Domestic violence knows no gender,” said Sister Ayesha Lites, case manager and service worker for the children’s division of Jackson County, Miss.
Diehl said more men and members of the gay and Hispanic communities have talked about the abuse in their lives.
Iman Luzon Muhammad, Muslim American Society member, said the term domestic violence should be changed to family violence.
“Everybody in that family is affected by that relationship between the husband and the wife,” Muhammad said.
Blame is often a part of domestic violence. Some victims are convinced it is their own fault, some believe the offender will change and some fear they’ll be killed if they leave the relationship.
“If they have a drug or alcohol problem, or a mental illness, they will blame their violence on that,” Halley said.
Victims often assume that if the substance abuse stops, the physical and mental abuse will stop also.
Halley said getting rid of one unhealthy outlet for frustrations may mean they will rely more heavily on others, including domestic violence.
“People have different motives for their aggressions,” Halley said. “Some to win approval, some to bolster their self esteem and some because they get a lot of pleasure.”
Halley said there are three types of batterers: survival-based, entitlement-based and sadistic-based.
Survival-based batterers need their partners to survive. If they sense betrayal, they lash out. Entitlement-based batterers lash out if they don’t get their way. Sadistic-based batterers find pleasure in causing others pain.
Diehl said that in order to understand how to stop domestic violence, understanding why and how it happens needs to be understood first.
“We want to reach out to the whole of this community,” Muhammad said. “Repeat this, and bring someone with you next time.”