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Depicting Women's Health
Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.


Every 9 seconds a woman is beaten in the United States -

When exploring characters who are experiencing abusive relationships or domestic violence, remember that there is more to the story than the injuries, fights, secrets, and hope for escape. Think about ways you can go deeper into the co-occurring mental health conditions, substance abuse and instances of self medicating, as well as the effect on those peripherally involved like close friends, children and extended family members. Consider these suggestions when designing your characters and storylines to showcase what is happening below the surface for the victims affected by domestic violence:

  • Consider portraying the effect domestic violence can have on an individual’s mental health when conditions like depression, anxiety, inability to sleep, changes in appetite and emotional numbing co-occur or become more severe in an abusive environment.
  • Consider the topic of ambient trauma (see box) and attempt to portray the effects domestic violence can have on children who might also be part of the setting.
  • The destructive impact that domestic violence can have on a person's self-esteem is enormous. Since people typically cannot force someone to get out of a violent situation, consider portraying characters offering assistance to victims and providing the help they need when they're ready for it.
Ambient trauma is characterized by that often softer/quiet repetitive background noise that comes as a result of many different levels of trauma in our environment.

Domestic violence is one of those traumas, the ambient noise and heightened emotional states that are absorbed by the innocent bystander (children, neighbors etc..) is cumulative and many times the most damaging especially if constant over time.
-- Dr. Charles Sophy, 
Psychiatrist and Medical Director,
Los Angeles County Department of Children & Family Services

Substance Abuse & Domestic Violence:
Did you know?

  • Regular alcohol abuse is one of the leading risk factors for intimate partner violence. 
  • A battering incident that is coupled with alcohol abuse is often more severe resulting in greater injury. 
  • Women who abuse alcohol are more likely to report a history of childhood physical and emotional abuse than women who do not.
  • A history of abuse makes a woman 15 times more likely to abuse alcohol and 9 times more likely to abuse drugs than a woman without such a history. 
  • Recent studies show that children who run away from violent homes are at a greater risk of developing a problem with substance abuse. 

Portions of this newsletter have been adapted from 

PT Womens Health Cover
Picture This: Women's Health

Violence & Women

  • stressThe strongest risk factor for being a victim of intimate partner violence is being female.
  • One of every six women has been forcibly raped at some time in her life, and women are as likely to be raped as adults as they are as minors.
  • While women are at a significantly greater risk in comparison to men of being raped by all types of offenders, 43 percent of all female victims were raped by either a current or former intimate partner.
  • Between 25 and 50 percent of women will be abused by male partners during their lifetime. 

17 APA Call For Entries 

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