Does domestic violence really happen on the shore?
Yes. ESCADV typically provides services to over 150 adults and children a year due to domestic violence. Since domestic violence often goes unreported, the number of individuals impacted by domestic violence on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is most likely much higher.
Who can experience domestic violence?
Anyone can experience domestic violence. Domestic violence occurs across all groups in society, regardless of age, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, wealth or geography. Domestic violence happens to women, men, heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender individuals.
What are the effects of domestic violence?
The effects of domestic violence are wide ranging and will differ for all victims. In some cases the impact of domestic violence is fatal.
i. The obvious physical effects of domestic violence can include, physical injury such as cuts, bruising, broken bones etc. Often overlooked is the emotional suffering which can occur as a direct result of domestic violence. The emotional impact can have devastating effects on a victim and children in the household which are prevalent in both the short and long term. Victims of domestic violence will experience a range of emotions, including fear, confusion, uncertainty, worry for their children, instability and anxiety all of which make it increasingly difficult to leave the relationship. Research has shown that domestic violence causes lasting damage to a victim's physical and mental health, affecting all areas of their lives, including work, relationships, social life, confidence and self-esteem. Recovering from the impact of domestic violence can be a lifelong process.
Why don't victims of domestic violence just leave?
The decision to leave an abusive relationship is a very long and difficult process. If someone is experiencing domestic violence, they may:
i. Feel frightened and uncertain about what the future will hold
ii. Feel frightened for the children
iii. Feel it is in the children's best interests to stay in the family home
iv. Feel ashamed and reluctant to tell or seek help
v. Have such low confidence and self-esteem that making decisions is a confusing and difficult task
vi. Be isolated from family and friends and feel they have no one to turn to
vii. Be worried about financial security if they leave
viii. Not have information on services available
ix. Have received a negative response, when they reached out to someone for support in the past
x. Be too exhausted to take on any life changes or major decisions
xi. Still have feelings of love for their partner and fond memories of how things used to be
xii. Hope and believe that things will get better
Leaving an abusive relationship can also be a very dangerous time for the individual. ESCADV encourages individuals to reach out to the hotline (757) 787-1329 to develop a safety plan for when they decide to leave.
We are a small, rural area. Does rape happen here?
Yes. In fiscal year 2018, ESCADV received 16 hotline calls for reports of sexual assault. While this number may seem small, sexual assault and rape is also underreported. One victim is too many!
What if I was on a date with my rapist?
Many times the rapist is someone the victim knows - a date, friend, boyfriend, classmate or anyone else who is not a stranger. The vast majority of rape or sexual assault victims are assaulted by someone they know. The law does not make any distinctions between stranger rapes and date or acquaintance rape.
Why don't victims of sexual assault and/or rape report the crime?
There are many reasons survivors choose not to report. Consider the ways reports of sexual assault are usually handled in the media, in communities, and in the criminal justice system. Survivors may feel that no one will believe them. In many cases, an individual may not recognize what they experienced as a crime. Survivors may also deny or minimize what happened to them as a coping mechanism. There are also substantial physical barriers to reporting. An individual may feel they do not have the time, money, knowledge, support system, or language capacity needed to access the reporting process.
ESCADV encourages all survivors of sexual assault and/or rape to call the 24/7 confidential hotline (757) 787-1329 to discuss their options. If the survivor chooses they may remain anonymous for the hotline call.