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Dispelling myths about domestic violence

Domestic violence can happen to anyone. Millions of women and men will experience it, Dr. Comilla Sasson goes over some of the myths surrounding it and offers resources on the topic.

KUSA — Millions of women and men will experience some type of domestic violence in their lifetime. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience violence from an intimate partner.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence as it is also called, can be perpetrated by a man or woman. This can be in heterosexual or same-sex couples. The abuse can be emotional, physical, financial, digital or sexual in nature. About 40% of all murders of women are committed by an intimate partner. The abuse can take a physical and mental toll on the person.

What are some common myths we should dispel about domestic violence?

  • He/she doesn’t hit me. Abusive behavior comes in many forms. There are many different types of abuse such as financial abuse. That is where someone will limit access to bank accounts/credit cards. There's also digital abuse, which can be online or cyberstalking, tracking your activities on your phone/computer etc.
  • We aren’t married, so it is not domestic violence. Anyone who is dating, married, or has been in a relationship of some kind in the past is at risk for domestic violence.
  • I cannot leave, because I am all alone. There are so many resources available, including coming to the Emergency Department/healthcare provider, reaching out to the national hotline, reaching out to family and/or friends, or going to a local shelter or resource center.

What happens if I go to the ER? Do healthcare providers screen for abuse and violence?

We ask women and men if they feel safe at home. We also look for certain types of injuries which could be from a potential abuse situation. In Colorado, healthcare providers have a duty to report possible domestic violence injuries to the police, unless the person is 18 years or older and refuses, or if it is not a serious injury. I always ask to speak to the person alone, so that I can ask about what happened, if there has been prior abuse, if the person is ok with me reporting this, and if so, how can we get that person out of the abusive situation immediately. Making sure there are resources for counseling, a safe place to go to (especially if there are children involved) and involving law enforcement are all an important part of the process.

Where can people go for additional resources?

Here is a sampling of some available resources. There are so many amazing programs and resources available for anyone who is in need.

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline- Staffed 24 hours/day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Free hotline where you can talk with trained advocates. 1-800-799-SAFE www.TheHotline.org
  • National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline- Free service which can connect you to local resources and advocates. 800-656-HOPE www.rainn.org
  • Reach out to your healthcare provider. We have a lot of resources available for women and men to link you to advocates in the area, talk to law enforcement, and/or just be in a safe place. We are here to help.
  • Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence has map of resources available by county. Resources available in English and Spanish. www.violencefreecolorado.org
  • National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline- 866-331-9474 www.loveisrespect.org
  • Violence Free Colorado has a ton of resources - including a list of metro area shelters, even ones that take pets. https://www.violencefreecolorado.org/
  • SafeHouse Denver offers services in English and Spanish. Their 24/7 crisis number is 303-318-9989. https://safehouse-denver.org/
  • Stand Up Colorado provides statistics, information on relationship violence, and resources for people who not only feel like they're being abused, but also for people who are concerned that they might be an abuser. 1-855-978-2638, http://www.standupcolorado.org/using-violence/
  • Rose Andom Center http://roseandomcenter.org/after-hour-resources/

Follow 9NEWS Medical Expert Dr. Comilla Sasson on Facebook and Twitter. Have a medical question or health topic idea? Email Dr. Comilla at c.sasson@9news.com