By Room One staff
Expanding upon Marshal Rikki Schwab’s February article about domestic violence, we at Room One would like anyone affected by this very important issue to know there are resources available to help.
Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, involves more than just physical violence. Abuse is any behavior used with the intent to gain power and control over a spouse, partner, girl/boyfriend or intimate family member. This broad definition includes tactics of emotional manipulation such as humiliation, insults, threats, or withholding affection; sexual abuse such as treating a partner as a sex object, or unwanted touch; and economic abuse like controlling a partners’ access to money and financial independence.
Abuse is a learned behavior — it is not caused by anger, mental illness, or drugs or alcohol.
Victims of domestic violence do not cause the abuse, nor invite it to happen — regardless of age, income, mental health, sexual orientation, profession, or alcohol or drug dependency. Intimate partner violence is a result of how the perpetrator chooses to behave, not the victim.
Like victims, perpetrators of abuse come from all backgrounds: a vast majority — 52 percent — are men who are well-socialized, have no diagnosable mental illness, and are not likely to have problems with drugs or alcohol. However, abusers do share some characteristics: They feel entitled to power and control over their partner and choose to use abuse to gain and maintain that control.
Abusers typically present themselves differently to friends and family, making it hard for victims to describe their experience and have people believe them.
Our role as advocates at Room One is to help people understand their choices — to listen and help clarify the challenges, use problem-solving to identify available options, and to reinforce each person’s autonomy and self-determination. When necessary, Room One advocates are available to help survivors create a safety plan, locate temporary emergency housing, receive an emergency cell phone, and get connected to available resources.
Our work at Room One also involves getting upstream of violence. This means building programs that prevent violence in our schools and community and ensuring that we all have access to resources that keep us safe — like affordable housing, stable income, and a belief that we can create change in our own lives. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing domestic violence, here are a few resources that may be helpful.
• Room One, www.roomone.org, 997-2050.
• The Support Center — emergency shelter and advocacy in Okanogan County, www.thesupportcenter.org, (888) 826-3221.
• Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline, (800) 562-6025.
• SAGE — emergency shelter and advocacy in Wenatchee, (509) 888-HELP.
Room One is a nonprofit social services agency in Twisp.