What is domestic violence? There are signs a relationship might be dangerous
CHICAGO (WLS) -- According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime.
That means it could likely happen to someone you know.
According to the Emory University School of Medicine, "intimate partner violence" results in nearly 1,300 deaths and 2 million injuries every year in the U.S.
And it's been said that domestic violence is a pandemic within the COVID-19 crisis.
"We've seen a dramatic increase in the number of individuals calling the hotline either via text or by calling our virtual chat. We have a 16% percent increase in calls to the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline and over a 2,500% increase in chats. And that just simply has not abated over time," said Amanda Pyron, executive director of The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence. "These numbers have been consistent from March 2020 until yesterday. We're still seeing increased calls for support and safety planning and for shelter. Folks need a safe place to go when they're fleeing violence and those calls are continuing to increase to the hotline."
So what are the signs that a relationship might be dangerous?
"I think one of the easiest warning signs to start to notice is your own feeling, right? If you don't feel safe in a relationship, that's a huge red flag. If you're starting to doubt yourself, doubt what you think or feel, doubt if something's even real, that's something to be concerned about. Not everyone feels unsafe in their relationship. It's not normal to question your partner's behavior. So pay attention to your own warning signs first and foremost," Pyron said.
Once a person feels they might be in danger and they might want to leave, they may develop a safety plan.
Lisa Horne, domestic violence program director at Family Shelter Service of Metropolitan Family Services in DuPage, explains some of the questions they start with for those seeking to leave.
"We really talk about what are their means? Do they have a car? Do they have transportation? Do they have access to money? We want to know about their support system. Is there anybody out there from a neighbor to a sister, to a friend who might be able to help them leave the situation if that's what they want to do?" Horne said.
Children are involved sometimes, as well.
"I just think it's most important that we involve the children. So many parents really want to protect their children, and I get that. But it's really important for the children to be able to understand how to keep themselves safe. Who are safe people? Do they know how to call 911? Do they know the safe neighbor they might be able to run to to call help if that's what's in need," Horne said. "So it's really important to have these conversations with the children and not leave them out of it. "
Family Shelter Service also provides individualized services for children, but they work closely with the families.
"We really think it's important that the situation is happening to the family, and we treat the whole entire family," Horne said.
The Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-877-863-6338