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2/ Spring 2013 Domestic Violence A Q&A with Ann Gosnell of the House of By Tempest Wright Wright: Why do teen girls who come from emotionally attentive households still fall victim to abusive partners? 'I'm in a relationship with a man that I love, that I think loves me, but I'm scared of him and he hurts me,' is a hard conversation for Gosnell: I think teenaged girls anyone to start, let alone a young tend to misunderstand abusive girl who is also dealing with all the and controlling behaviors as pressures of school and friends. love. So I think in the beginning I think that it starts with of a potentially abusive empowering the young ladies. I relationship, especially if the think they need to know that if boyfriend is really popular or a boy makes them question other girls like him, they think anything in their relationship, stalking and controlling it's okay to talk to someone. As behaviors mean he is giving all a parent, it's important to have his time and attention to her open and honest because he loves her. communication. Parents have to Wright: What effect does a know that they're not going to violent household have on a young be able to control a situation like woman entering an abusive this. If they tell their daughters, 'That's it — you're not seeing relationship? him anymore,' in a sense they Gosnell: When children grow up are revictimizing her by not in a domestic violence letting her make her own household, whether they are decision. primary victims who are also being abused, or they are the Wright: What are some red secondary victims and only flags to note if you suspect observe the abuse, sadly most someone is being abused? kids either become victims or they become abusers themselves. Breaking out of those roles to find a loving, caring relationship is not impossible, but in the beginning, the environment shapes the child. Gosnell: If we're talking about teen dating violence, when a girl stops hanging out with her girlfriends or doing things she likes and starts only hanging out with her boyfriend, that is a huge red flag, because isolation is one of the factors in domestic Wright: What's the most violence. important thing young women Wright: What is one thing that should know about the cycle of most people don't understand abuse? about domestic violence? Gosnell: I think children, especially young women, need to know the difference between love and control. I do think that in younger relationships, it doesn't necessarily start with physical or emotional abuse, but it starts with control issues. Girls need to be empowered. They need to have someone to talk to who is not just going to tell them they have to get out of that relationship. Because teens are learning to make their own decisions, the more you tell them not to do something, the more they're going to do it. Gosnell: The question I get asked all the time is why a woman would go back, and underlining that question is an assumption that she's weak or she can't stand to be alone. In my opinion, it's the complete opposite. I think women who stay in domestic violence situations are very strong. They have wonderful survival skills. None of us will ever understand the reasons why they stay, but a lot of them do it to keep their families together. They think it's the best thing for their kids and that's what women do — we Wright: Only 33 percent of protect our kids. abused teens report abuse. That Wright: What is the best way to means 67 percent of teens suffer help someone who is being in silence. Why do victims of abuse abused? stay silent? Gosnell: Open the doors of Gosnell: One, they don't know it's communication without making abuse. Two, they're embarrassed. any decisions for her. Give her the And three, they may be afraid of numbers for the House of Hope getting in trouble. Some girls that or the counselors at school or come from a nurturing, functional, someone else who will not try to safe environment worry about resolve the situation for her, but making mom and dad happy and help her work through what will proud. To go to a parent and say, be best for her. It's very hard for a family to deal with a victim of domestic violence because they want to rescue the victim, and they may substitute their own desires for what the victim wants. It's hard to resist badmouthing someone who is abusing your loved one, but that's the worst thing to do. If the victim thinks that everybody's against her abuser, and she starts seeing him as a victim, it's going to be harder to get her away from him. accessHealth accessHealth Wright: Why do some women go back to abusive relationships, and how can they get out? Tara Broadway Staff Writer Gosnell: When a woman exits from a domestic violence relationship, the chance of her being in harm's way almost doubles. Additionally, they are often economically dependent on their abuser. As soon as she leaves her home and enters the domestic violence shelter, she's considered to be homeless, and if she has children, they are too. A lot of abusers try to sue for sole custody of the children, and many women think if they stay in the relationship, at least their kids will be safe. Many times, a victim feels responsible if her abuser calls and says he wants to change and he is lost without her. A lot of abusers threaten suicide. Then the woman remembers the good times and goes back, hoping that the next time it's not going to be as scary. But research shows that abusers don't reform on their own. Domestic violence doesn't just stop. Rachel Collins Contributing Writer To get safely away, the first step is to reach out. Come to any domestic violence shelter or any social service agency. We all have each other's numbers and we do a lot of referrals. The most important thing is taking the step to leave. When they come into the shelter, we help them get healed, increase their power and their confidence, help them get a job and housing. But if she decides to go back, we also support her in that as well. We don't close our doors to women that we know are going to return to their abuser. At House of Hope, we offer support groups, crisis intervention and case management, and someone is always here, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if a client chooses to come in or call our hotline, 888.259.6795. Ann Gosnell is the executive director of the House of Hope. Marjorie Langas Graphic Support Randy Leiker IT Support Tempest Wright Teen Health Writer Photography Tonia Wright Publisher, Editor-in-Chief We want to hear from you! Let us know how we are doing on Facebook, Twitter @accessHealth1 or write: accessHealth c/o Grace Advertising 325 Broadway Lexington, MO 64067 accessHealth is published by Grace Advertising & Consulting, Inc. 325 Broadway Lexington, MO 64067 is the online arm of this print publication. A special thank you to HCF for supporting the following nonprofits in this issue: Brighter Futures COVERSA LC Children's Services Fund

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