For the last few weeks, I have been collecting data anonymously from a simple survey of domestic abuse victims who share children with their abuser.
Responders answered through a Google survey form with 31 questions about their experience.
I posted the survey here, (click on the link to take the survey) on social media and passed it around to a few experts in the field so they could pass it on to their clients. It is open to anyone with the link.
So far, 33 people have responded. (Click on that link to see the full survey results.) Ninety one percent are women. Of the men who responded, one man gave answers relating to his abusive, same-sex union; one man gave answers relating to his abusive, heterosexual union and reported that his wife was the abuser; and one man gave answers about his non-abusive, heterosexual union.
The rest, 30 women or 91%, gave their answers relating to an abusive, heterosexual union.
And all responders said they shared children together with this partner and all were now out of the relationship. Most, 79 percent, said they ended the relationship rather than their abuser. Most had been married or co-habitating with their abuser and of course, all share children with this person.
Though this is not scientific results, it is worthy data about a horrible problem that desperately needs more resources and attention. Read some of the comments added at the end of the results pages to humanize these crazy numbers.
In a nutshell:
- Though domestic abuse is not a gender issue, and men are victims, too, the vast majority are women being abuse by men and we need to figure out why this matters. No one should be abused, no matter the gender, but the fact that most victims are women just might point to why our society is still tolerating abuse in domestic relationships.
- The majority of the victims left, almost 80 percent initiated the break-up. I wonder why we assume that victims stay with their abusers or that abusers leave their victims. Again, not a scientific survey here, but doesn’t this indicate that abusers don’t leave or at least, they don’t leave until they have lined up a new relationship? Victims are the ones who leave despite some really tough situation. Wow, these are some strong people. How about we stop blaming the victim “for staying.”
- These responders endured all sorts of violence during the union, essentially making up a pattern of power and control and the definition of abuse by the Department of Justice. I use this reference all the time because too often we label domestic violence with lessening and dismissing terms, like domestic disturbance.
- Of those who responded, the vast majority reported they endured multiple forms of abuse, not just one, and clicked more than one choice. 68% were hit, pushed or grabbed. A third were choked or injured with a weapon by their partner. The majority were controlled and manipulated in all sorts of ways and 85% said their abuser lied to the children about the victim. Two thirds said their abuser threatened to take the children away from the victim.
Yet, the majority have to share custody and co-parent with these abusers. I think it is pretty clear from this survey that abusers can use children as objects to blackmail their victims into submission. Adults don’t have the right in our country to coerce others to do what they want “or else.” Isn’t that called extortion? And we think children are not harmed by one parent abusing another? Really?
I will continue to keep the survey open so others can add their data and I will continue to update my readers on the results. It is an anonymous survey, and there is no way for me to track who took it, but you can take it only once and if you want to leave your name, you can. I was actually surprised that over a third of the responders did leave their name and some left their contact information, too.
Thank you all for your participation. You are helping others when you reach out, speak up and speak out against abuse.
Julie Boyd Cole is a mother of two sons, a journalist, writer and business woman. She has written for the Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Yahoo.com, among many publications around the country. Currently, she is the chief executive administrator of a non-profit in North Florida. And Julie is a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of her ex-husband, an NFL sportswriter, and today is an advocate helping other victims sort through the trauma of domestic abuse. Julie also writes for bruisedwoman.com and @bruisedwoman on Twitter about the topic of domestic abuse, co-parenting with an abuser and the emotional damage caused by narcissists and personality disorders.
She can be contacted at email@example.com