Domestic Violence and DEI
by Amanda Lara, M.S., LPCC
October was deemed Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 1987 by U.S. Congress through Public Law 101-112 to raise awareness about the prevalence of domestic violence (DV) and to connect individuals to resources. DV can present as an imbalance of power in many ways including physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, intimidation, isolation, economic abuse, stalking, and harassment. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner.
With the high prevalence of DV in our nation, it is important to include cultural considerations. DV is not limited to heterosexual relationships or to any specific race/ethnicity. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence also reported that members of the LBTQ community are victims of domestic violence at higher rates compared to heterosexual couples:
- 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women experience DV compared to 35% of straight women.
- 26% of gay men and 37.3% of bisexual men experience DV compared to 29% of heterosexual men.
- 54% of transgender and non-binary individuals experience DV in their lifetimes.
DV also disproportionally affects minority women, with four out of 10 non-Hispanic women of color reporting being a victim of DV in their lifetime. This rate is 30-50% higher than what is experienced by White women according to the 2010 State Report on national intimate partner and sexual violence conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pressure from community to keep family matters private, worrying about legal status, distrust of law enforcement, and lack of representation in service providers are reasons that people of color often rationalize not seeking help from authorities or professionals.
Through our organization, we can help victims of domestic violence by staying informed of the prevalence and warning signs. We can directly assess for DV when clients are alone by asking if they feel safe in their homes. We can be vigilant of warning signs including physical signs of abuse (like bruising, black eyes, and other injuries) and emotional signs of abuse (like constant apprehension, persistent fearfulness, avoidance of close relationships). If we suspect DV, we can discreetly direct these individuals to professional resources, even if these victims do not initially plan on using them.