Video Report: Gaining control: Domestic violence is a bigger problem than some believe
SWITZ CITY -- Sunglasses to hide blackened eyes, turtle neck sweaters worn in the middle of the summer to cover up bruises or strangulation marks on the neck and a stunning silence are common in victims of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is more prevalent in Indiana communities than most people would believe.
Victims are female and male -- but females are more commonly abused. However, the level of violence inflicted on a male victim is likely to be much more severe and more often fatal when they come from females perpetrators, according to Caryn Burton, training director for the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Statistics for the last fiscal year tell a horrible, but true story about the status of domestic violence in the state, Burton says.
* There were more than 108,000 calls to Hoosier hotlines for assistance with domestic violence.
* More than 9,200 women and children were served by emergency shelters directly related to domestic violence cases.
* More than 30,000 Orders of Protection were filed in courts across the state in 2007.
* 65 deaths were due to domestic violence.
Burton conducted a pair of half-day-long training seminars Wednesday at the Greene County Fairgrounds for healthcare workers, social service agency employees and law enforcement personnel.
The program -- "Domestic Violence: A Community Wide Response" -- was presented in partnership with the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Greene County General Hospital, Middle Way House and the Greene County Prosecutor's office.
Burton, a 30-year-old mother of two sons, was a victim of domestic violence in a previous relationship that started during her pre-teen years. She's happily married now, but said she learned from that experience and talks candidly about domestic violence as a crime of power and control.
It's also a crime that is commonly repeated over and over again without intervention.
"Domestic violence is about gaining and maintaining power and control. You'll hear people say he was angry. He was drunk. He was high. He was having an affair. No, domestic violence is about gaining the power in a relationship and maintaining control over that partner so what happens, what's said, what's done, what is expected, all of that comes back to that power partner and that is the person who is in control. It is a crime of power and control and nothing else."
She also stressed, "Certainly domestic violence is a crime and should be prosecuted where possible."
Click on the video below and hear Caryn Burton talk frankly about domestic violence. Video by Nick Schneider.
But reality is, domestic violence from a behavioral definition is what cycles through generations and causes numerous social issues.
"It is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors that includes but is not limited to physical, sexual, psychological and economic attack and it can be utilized by adults and adolescents against their intimate partners," Burton explained. "One of the biggest uphill battles that we face is getting folks to understand that domestic violence doesn't start when you turn 18. It doesn't start when you become an adult and you get into a serious dating relationship and there is actually the idea of a future together. Much of the domestic violence that we see started for the survivor when they were 13, 14, 15 and 16 year old with their first dating relationship."
Burton acknowledged that her domestic violence problems as a victim started when she was 12 years old and lasted until she was 15, when her perpetrator was killed in a drunk driving accident.
"My parents didn't know (about the abuse) because I didn't want them to know. Serious, straight up they didn't have a clue because I was able to hide it from them. I went through some pretty serious physical trauma let alone emotional trauma and psychological trauma. My parents pretty much wrote that off as me being a moody teenager. I was able to hide most of what happened to me," she elaborated. "I was able to do that because one of the first things we do as survivors is blame ourselves. We say it's our fault and we keep it within so we can deal with it so nobody else needs to be bothered."
Click on the video below to hear Burton's comments on men also being domestic violence victims. Video by Nick Schneider
Domestic violence takes several forms of abuse: verbal, emotional/psychological, economic, sexual and physical.
"Physical abuse is the first sign and the first symptom," Burton said.
She pointed out that economic abuse is common and what she called the "fastest growing form" of domestic violence.
"If you want to leave a relationship, if you want to establish your own individuality, if you want to establish your own live, the fastest way to take away that ability is take away access to resources -- to take away the money. If you can't have $5 to put gas in your car, especially in a rural area like this, you have no hope of going anywhere," she said. "Whoever controls the checkbook pretty much controls the home."