We interviewed Yvette Sosa, SOS bilingual victim advocate, to learn answers to the burning questions you’ve wanted to ask, but never did.
What is the most common type of domestic abuse?
- Verbal and emotional abuse. “It usually starts with name calling – making the person feel worthless,” said Yvette. “Often victims talk themselves out of realizing they are being victimized by minimizing the situation…. ‘He’s not hitting me, he’s just angry; he’s stressed out.”
- They use fear, guilt, shame and intimidation to wear partner down.
- They may threaten to hurt their partner and do the same to those close to the individual.
- Isolating the victim from friends and family.
- Economical – putting them on a limited budget/controlling the household income.
How do people get into domestic violence situations?
- Normalized. “They may have experienced this growing up, so it’s normal to them,” Yvette said.
- The person changes upon committing to the relationship/marriage; this may occur instantly or gradually.
Why don’t victims just…leave?
- They are still in love and do not want to give up on the relationship.
- Hopeful the person will change (he/she said they would change).
- Economics. “I have a home and food, how will I survive if I leave?”
- They don’t want the kids to grow up without both parents.
- They are afraid of being alone or don’t have support in the community (family, friends)
How do cases finally get reported if the victim is too scared to do something about it?
- After meeting with a health care professional a victim may open up to the abuse and be referred to SOS.
- The couple may be involved in an incident in which the police are called by a third party leading to a possible arrest, a no contact order and a court process. (Local law enforcement has SOS information with them at all times.)
- Friends or family may call the police or SOS seeking support for their loved one.
What are the turning points for victims to report?
- The victim realizes they could lose their lives or their children’s by staying in the situation.
- They realize the abuse is not normal and that it’s against the law.
- Friends or family encourage the person to call SOS or the police.
Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose: to gain and maintain total control over a person. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under their thumb. An abuser may also threaten to hurt you or hurt those around you.
Remember that domestic violence and abuse does not discriminate. It happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. And while women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused—especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes even physically as well. The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.
“It’s scary to leave what you’ve grown accustom to; even if it involves physical violence,” Yvette said. “But once a victim meets with an advocate, they are reassured about the confidentiality component of SOS Crisis Services and feel relieved they finally took the step to seek help and work toward being safe and becoming whole.”