As relationships develop over time, one partner’s casual remark or occasional touch that leaves the other feeling uncomfortable or ill at ease can evolve into a pattern of abuse with the familiar hallmarks of dominance, fear and control. Sadly, the victim often blames herself for what is happening, and stays in the hope of making it better or out of a fear of leaving.
Many victims do not even call it by name. In Mississippi, 39.7% of women and 31.7% of men have experienced domestic violence that is physical, sexual, or from a stalker at some point in their lives. Many cases, however, go unreported. When there are firearms in the home, the risk of harm rises dramatically, and 96% of all victims in such cases are women.
The individuals who abuse their partners and family were often victims themselves, and their actions are a continuation of patterns of violence that they experienced as children. Children who are exposed to domestic violence are at a high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, which can negatively impact their emotional, physical and psychological wellbeing, and also lower their academic performance.
What can I do to end the abuse?
Making the decision to leave will probably mean that the victim and her family will have to have protection. In a situation where the victim has had to leave and stay with friends or relatives in the past, or if law enforcement has previously investigated a report of domestic abuse in the home, the reported incidents will help to establish the pattern of violence.
There are two basic types of protective orders that a Mississippi court may issue in order to protect victims of domestic violence from abuse:
- A temporary order is an action the court may take to prevent immediate harm to the victim or their family and requires testimony or sworn affidavit by the victim. The order will remain in place for 10 days after the abuser has been served and may last as long as 30 days unless there are no minor children, in which case it may extend for up to one year.
- A final order is an action the judge may take after hearing the arguments from both the alleged abuser and victim and may last as long as the judge sees appropriate to the given situation.
The first step to ending an abusive relationship is to get help. Reaching out to support services in your community can provide some relief. For residents of Gulfport and surrounding areas, it is also crucial to find out how the law will protect you and what you must do to take care of yourself and your loved ones.