Thursday, March 25, 2010

Being a Woman is a Pre-existing Condition, No More!

For whatever your opinion on the Health Care Reform bill, it will now prohibit insurance companies from classifying domestic violence as a preexisting condition and that is a very good thing.

As journalist Amy Davidson points out in The New Yorker, when being a domestic violence victim makes it harder for a woman to get insurance this could discourage her from telling her doctor about where those injuries really came from. And what about her children? If she cannot get insurance, then what does that mean for her kids? Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey told the House in the final debate of the bill that "We should be ashamed".

Lynn Rosenthal in The White House Blog writes,

"Yet until last night, insurance companies in eight states and the District of Columbia could still discriminate against victims by declaring domestic violence a preexisting condition. Domestic violence victims in those states faced the real risk of being denied health care at the very time when they needed it the most. Because of last night’s vote, domestic violence victims in those states will no longer face discrimination."

To read more about the bill and how it helps victims of domestic violence check out "For Victims of Domestic Violence, Health Care is a Lifeline" by Lynn Rosenthal.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Abusers Believe Abuse to Be More Common

A study by the University of Washington discovered that men who commit abuse against their partners tend to significantly overestimate how common abuse occurs in other relationships. The study asked 124 men in batterer treatment programs how often they thought other men engaged in different forms of violence against their partners, such as pushing, grabbing, shoving or threatening a partner with a gun. Findings show that these men tended to overestimate by two to three times how frequently other men engaged in this behavior. Perceptions by batterers of how other men treat women tended to be directly related to the degree to which a batterer was abusive: the more abusive the man, the more common he assumed abusive behavior by others to be.

Why do abusers believe this? Abusers may convince themselves of this as a way to justify their own behavior. The researchers of this study propose that by changing the ideas about what abusers think is common behavior, it may help them understand that what they are doing is unacceptable, and encourage them to work towards stopping it.

This study also points to a larger issue in society - - why are men abusive? There are many ways to answer this question. In relation to the study findings, too many boys and men are getting the message that violence against women is a normally occurring experience. Changing this perception, means changing the messages we’re giving our boys. This can happen through better education about domestic violence in schools, changing the way women and men are depicted in the media, increasing counseling services for children who have witnessed violence in the home, and beyond anything else working towards a society that values women as much as men. When we change the way we think, we change the way we act.

To read more about domestic violence and where to get help please visit


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

You can call the police if someone has committed a crime

Even if you do not qualify for a restraining order, the abuser may have committed a crime. If you call the police, they may arrest him for a crime. Each state has its own list of crimes and definition of crimes. These definitions and explanations are usually located in the Penal Code or Criminal Code of that state's legal statutes.

Even if there is a crime of domestic violence, the definition of that crime may not be the same as the definition of domestic violence used for getting a restraining order. Whether or not a state has a specific crime of domestic violence, it will have other crimes that the abuser may have committed. Crimes in your state may include:

  • Assault
  • Threats (or menacing)
  • Endangerment
  • Criminal coercion
  • Kidnapping
  • Unlawful imprisonment
  • Sexual offenses (e.g. sexual assault, rape)
  • Trespassing
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
You may learn more about crimes by calling your local police department, sheriff's department, or district attorney's office. See our Sheriff's Departments page for the contact information for your local sheriff's department.

If you are a victim of domestic violence and have been charged with a crime, you can contact the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women.

Other organizations for victims of crime are listed on our National Organizations page.

You may want to contact the Stalking Resource Center if you are being stalked or harassed:

Victims of DV with Disabilities

Last month we did a post on Victims with Disabilities. Below are some sad statistics about this problem:
  • The rate of nonfatal violent crimes against people with disabilities was 1.5 times higher than the rate for people without disabilities.
  • Rates of rape and sexual assault were more than twice those for people without disabilities.
  • Youth with a disability ages 12 to 19 experienced violence at nearly twice the rate as those without a disability.
  • People with cognitive disabilities had a higher risk of violent victimization than persons with any other type of disability.
  • People with multiple disabilities accounted for about 56% of all violent crime victimizations against those with any disability.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 violent crime victims with a disability believed that they became a victim because of their disability.
Thanks to the Center for Independent Living of South Florida for this information.