Guest post by: Karen Wullaert DeKett, MA, LPC DV/SA Therapist
On February 2nd, FX aired the first episode of a ten-part series, The People vs. OJ Simpson. The series follows the 1995 double murder trial of famed football player and actor, OJ Simpson. Simpson was accused and later acquitted of the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her acquaintance, Ronald Goldman. Much of the prosecution’s case against OJ focused on the fact that he had a long history of physical and emotional abuse against Nicole.
Although this was a high profile case involving a celebrity, domestic violence occurs in homes across the country and disproportionately affects women. Studies suggest that one in three women have been abused by a partner or former partner. Domestic violence tends to increase in frequency and intensity over time. Although some may feel like what happened to Nicole Brown Simpson is an extreme case, research suggests that about half of women who are murdered in the United States are killed by a partner or former partner.
Domestic violence may feel like an overwhelming problem, but there is a lot that individuals can do to help survivors. First, you need to recognize the signs that someone is being abused. These signs may include:
- They seem afraid or anxious to please their partner.
- They go along with everything their partner says and does.
- They check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing.
- They talk about their partner’s temper or possessiveness.
- They have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents.”
- They withdraw from family and friends.
- They show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn).
- They seem depressed, anxious, or suicidal. If you are concerned that someone you care about is being abused, here are some ways that you can support them:
- Share your concerns with the person. Let them know that you want to help them.
- Emphasize that the abuse is not “normal” and it is not their fault. No one deserves to be abused.
- Respect their decisions. They may not be ready or willing to leave the relationship.
- Provide them with community resources, like HAVEN’s Crisis & Support Line.
- If you feel helpless or discouraged, remember that by being supportive and present, you are doing a lot to help.
- Get support for yourself. HAVEN can provide services to you as well.
Domestic violence thrives in silence and shame. Don’t be afraid to speak out and get help. HAVEN is here to help survivors of domestic violence and their supporters. To access services or get help, call our 24-hour Crisis and Support Line at 877-922-1274. To learn more, visit our website at www.haven-oakland.org. You are not alone.