JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Experts say, despite the stereotypes, domestic violence doesn't discriminate. It affects all socioeconomic levels including the upscale and educated. Experts say affluent victims are often type "A" women who are prone to trying to "fix things" and too often make the mistake of staying in irreparable, destructive and possibly fatal relationships.
Carolyn Cox knows this all too well. By all appearances, Carolyn had it all -- 43 years of marriage, two kids, and a mansion. Carolyn can no longer hide the tears she refused to cry while trying to keep her family, business and social life intact. "I was able to go out with a smile on my face so no one would ever know it," says Carolyn. Then, the abuse nearly killed her. "I remember two of the blows but there were many more." The beatings ended in a garage where Carolyn's husband attempted to end her life with carbon monoxide from two idling vehicles. "I was wanting to sleep and something just kept me saying you can't you can't you can't you're going to die." A family member called 911.
News of the crime made many people question domestic violence stereotypes. "People want to think that it happens to somebody else, that it only happens in the apartment buildings, it only happens in the inner city, it really cuts across all socio economic levels," says psychologist Karen Kuchar.
Experts say upscale abusers are often charming. They can appear confident but are self-absorbed and lack empathy. Their high powered jobs require them to be in control - but they must control every situation and feel entitled. They use money and power to manipulate others and especially after an incident, can be extremely kind. Experts add, many upscale victims seek therapists instead of shelter services that can better detect and help them end abusive situations.
Between 600,000 and six million women are victims of domestic violence each year and between 100,000 and six million men. Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of size, gender or strength, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused or denied. This is especially true when abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Emotional abuse is often minimized, yet it can leave deep and lasting scars. Domestic abuse is also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes violence is called domestic violence. Abusers use fear, guilt, shame and intimidation to control a victim.
On August 17, 2011, the Gonzales decision was issued to offer advocates the opportunity to contrast existing U.S law and policy in the civil rights arena with international human rights principles. By framing domestic violence as a human rights violation, the case challenges advocates and policymakers to re-think the current approach to domestic violence in the U.S, and asks whether fundamental rights are being respected, protected, and fulfilled. The decision holds the potential to influence domestic violence advocacy in the United States, and more broadly, to help bring human rights home to the U.S. This was decided after a 12 year long process when the three daughters of Jessica Lenahan Gonzales were abducted by her estranged husband and killed after the Castle Rock, Colorado police repeatedly refused to enforce her domestic violence restraining order against him. (www.law.miami.edu)
There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner, constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow up, chances are the relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs may include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.
For more information, including resources for men and women who are victims of domestic violence visit:
- In Duval and Baker counties: Hubbard House, 904-354-3114
- In St. Johns County: Betty Griffin House, 904-824-1555
- Clay County: Quigley House, 904-284-0061
- Nassau County: Micah's Place, 904-225-9979 or 877-228-7388
- State-wide domestic violence hotline: 800-500-1119
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