Domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another.” Sadly, one out of every three women have suffered beatings, have been coerced into sex or have been otherwise abused during her lifetime. Learn more on the stories of Domestic Violence Victims!
Often, domestic violence victims and their stories are largely misunderstood, with many friends and community members simply suggesting the woman leave her abuser. In many cases, though, it’s just not that simple. Now in Private Violence, a recently released full-length documentary shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014, not only is the public educated about the challenges surrounding domestic violence, but viewers will also get an intimate view of actual domestic violence victims.
Domestic violence victims and their advocates are often faced with some form of the question, “Why doesn’t she [the victim] just leave her abuser?” The documentary film Private Violence takes a rather unique approach to answering this question. In it, two survivors — Deanna Walters, a mother who is currently seeking justice for the abuse she suffered at the hands of her estranged husband, and Kit Gruelle, a domestic violence advocate whose work often finds her at odds with law makers and community members who simply do not seem to understand the complexities surrounding this difficult topic.
Walters is a 30-something mother who left her husband after repeated incidents of abuse. Her estranged husband falsely accused her of infidelity and this was his justification, if you will, for torturing his wife for years. A cross-country truck driver, Walters husband kidnapped his wife and young daughter, forcing them on a drive across the country in his 18-wheeler wherein he severely beat his wife, again and again, in front of their young daughter.
Walters’ friends became suspicious after he disappeared and contacted law enforcement officials with the information they had. Eventually, the husband was stopped in Oklahoma and Walters was taken to a local hospital. Walters admits her estranged husband vowed she would not make it to their destination alive, and photo evidence suggests that he worked diligently to make that happen. Doctors analyzing the photos said they had never seen such grizzly and extreme bruising, even among victims of car crashes. Amazingly, Walters husband was not taken to jail, nor was he forced to stay at the locale in which he, his wife and daughter were found. In fact, the husband simply proceeded on his trip without even as much as a warning.
Although other victims are highlighted throughout the film, it brings to the forefront the challenges victims face, even when overwhelming evidence is present. The laws and their enforcement are difficult, and at one point during the film, viewers see Walters’ confide that she felt the incident was somehow her fault. As many who are aware of domestic violence incidents, many who have suffered at the hands of someone they love suffer conflicting feels, blame themselves or worse, have their friends and loved ones hurl the blame directly at them.
The film not only addresses these issues from the eyes of Walters and Gruelle, her advocate, but it also offers practical advice for others who witness these problems but don’t know how to assist.
Below, you’ll find the rather grim statistics on this subject, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
- Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
- Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
- Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
- Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
- Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
- Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
- Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
- Based on reports from 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted non-governmental organizations, shelters, or the police for help.
- The costs of intimate partner violence in the US alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
- Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.