Domestic violence is a complex problem nobody wants to discuss. Yet, wishing doesn't make it go away - even for the community's youth.
Havre's 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed that 14 percent of high school students and 5 percent of middle school students have been intentionally hit, slapped, or physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend. What's even more alarming is that 11 percent of high schoolers and 7 percent of middle schoolers have been forced to have sexual intercourse against their will.
Knowing the statistics is a start. But true personal awareness begins at home. Readers of this column can raise their awareness simply by answering the following questionnaire from Reaching and Teaching Teens to Stop Violence - a project of the Nebraska Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition.
If any questions raise a red flag for a personal relationship or that of a loved one, talk to someone. Without help, the abuse will continue.
Call the Hill County Domestic Abuse Program - a service of the District IV Human Resources Development Council - at 265-6743 or, toll-free, (800) 640-6743.
Domestic violence checklist
Look over the following questions. Think about how you are being treated and how you treat your partner. Remember, when one person scares, hurts or continually puts down the other person, it's abuse.
Does your partner do the following?
Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family.
Put down your accomplishments or goals.
Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions.
Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance.
Tell you that you are nothing without them.
Treat you roughly, e.g., grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you.
Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be.
Use the fact that they've been drinking or taking drugs as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you.
Blame you for how they feel or act.
Pressure you sexually for things you aren't ready for.
Make you feel like there is no way out of the relationship.
Prevent you from doing things you want, like spending time with your friends or family.
Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to "teach you a lesson."
Do you experience any of the following?
Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act.
Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner's behavior.
Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself.
Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry.
Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you.
Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want.
Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up.
Domestic violence can be predicted. Signs often occur before actual abuse and may serve as clues to potential abuse. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers
this list of domestic violence predictors. Become familiar with the list. When considering becoming involved in a new relationship, review the list objectively. Encourage the young people in your life to do the same. Such awareness will help break the cycle of violence and could even
Please note: While both males and females might use power plays in a relationship, the fact remains that males are more likely to resort to violence.
Therefore, the predictor list is written from that perspective.
Did he grow up in a violent family? People who grow up in families where they have been abused as children, or where one parent beats the other, have learned such violence is normal behavior.
Does he tend to use force or violence to "solve" his problems? A young man who has a criminal record for violence, who gets into fights, or who likes to act tough is likely to act the same way with his wife and children.
Does he have a quick temper? Does he overreact to little problems and frustrations? Is he cruel to animals? Does he punch walls or throw things when he's upset? Any of these behaviors may be a sign of a person who will work out bad feelings with violence.
Does he abuse alcohol or other drugs? There is a strong link between violence and problems with drugs and alcohol. Be alert to his possible drinking or drug problems, particularly if he refuses to admit that he has a problem, or refuses to get help. Do not think that you can change him.
Does he have strong traditional ideas about what a man should be and what a woman should be?
Does he think a woman should stay at home, take care of her husband, and follow his wishes and orders?
Is he jealous of your other relationships - not just with other men that you may know -but also with your women friends and your family?
Does he keep tabs on you? Does he want to know where you are at all times?
Does he want you with him all of the time?
Does he have access to guns, knives, or other lethal instruments?
Does he talk of using them against people, or threaten to use them to get even?
Does he expect you to follow his orders or advice?
Does he become angry if you do not fulfill his wishes or if you cannot anticipate what he wants?
Does he go through extreme highs and lows, almost as though he is two different people? Is he extremely kind one time and extremely cruel at another time?
When he gets angry, do you fear him?
Do you find that not making him angry has become a major part of your life?
Do you do what he wants you to do, rather than what you want to do?
Does he treat you roughly?
Does he physically force you to do what you do not want to do?
Avoid becoming involved with anyone who exhibits these behaviors. It is a much easier tact than exiting such a relationship.
The HELP Committee and Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line is committed to providing club members and the community with opportunities and education for a healthy lifestyle. For more information on this or other related topics, call 265-6206.