Domestic violence and sexual assault have much in common. Both are about power and control, humiliation and dominance. The need to address prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault is not just a women’s issue, and it is not just an individual or family problem. Violence against women is a human issue, and a social problem. It’s up to the community to take a stand against abuse, hold abusers accountable for their behavior and protect victims.
Domestic violence is the actual or threatened physical, sexual, emotional or economic abuse of an individual by someone with whom they have or have had an intimate relationship. Abuse in intimate relationships is very common and most often women are the victims, but men can be abused too. It happens to all kinds of women, from all backgrounds. Everyone knows an abused woman – at school, in the neighborhood, at work, in the family.
Sexual violence is any form of unwanted, unwelcome or coercive sexual contact. Like the crime of domestic violence, the goal of sexual assault is to overpower, intimidate and degrade the victim. The crimes of sexual violence exist in a continuum from sexual harassment to rape and can include anything from stalking to inappropriate touching to penetration. It can also include sexual stalking on the Internet.
All abuse is done without concern for the physical or mental well being of the victim. Abusers disregard the consequences of the violence to the victim. Often the abuser’s feelings of insecurity, anxiety and helplessness trigger violence. The abuser may be attempting to gain control over his internal feelings by dominating another person.
In a violent relationship, regardless of the form of abuse that occurs, the incidents of abuse are recurrent and often escalate in severity and frequency.