Domestic Violence affects everyone

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 30, 2004

LIVING FREE with Liz Johnson

Domestic violence crosses all socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, age, educational, and religious levels. Advocates for victims of domestic violence must provide services that are sensitive and operate from an understanding of the diverse background of victims of abuse. All victims are faced with barriers when trying to escape battering relationships. According to Ellen Pence, In Our Best Interest: A Process for Personal and Social Change these barriers can be grouped into four basic categories.

I. Personal Barriers – shame, fear, lack of personal resources, and lack of emotional support.

II. Relationship Barriers – denied access to money, transportation, jobs, and the physical abuse itself.

III. Institutional Barriers – immigration policies, cultural insensitivity, a lack of services, discrimination, sexism, and other forms of oppression.

IV. Cultural Barriers – language differences, beliefs about marriage and the family, gender roles, and religious beliefs.

These barriers work to increase isolation and dependency among many victims of domestic violence, thereby, making it very difficult for victims to flee abusive relationships. Individually, these barriers can have a great impact on women’s abilities to flee. These barriers can be multiplied for many victims, whereby they may belong to more than one group. This can help maintain abusive relationships and also keep victims in relationships that can be both dangerous as well as life threatening.

Next week’s column will share some ideas about how advocates can help victims overcome these barriers.

Living Free Ministries

Liz Johnson

P. O. Box 2815

Reserve, La. 70084

(985) 652-9938