Ending the cycle of violence in an abusive relationship is an uphill battle for individuals being battered, and the odds are especially stacked against young women. According to The Red Flag Campaign, an alliance against sexual and domestic violence, "Women age 16 to 24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence." For this reason, the Red Flag Campaign sponsored a workshop at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC) on April 28, which was aimed at raising public awareness on domestic violence.
Lara Shipley, RN, Coordinator of Student Health Services and spokesperson for MPC regarding the workshop, mentioned that anyone could learn about various signs of abuse through the website www.theredflagcampaign.com. The workshop featured various speakers from the YWCA, Breakthrough for Men, and the Monterey Police Department. The workshop was designed to "encourage college students to intervene if they see red flags" in a relationship.
Officer Brent Hall, Monterey Police Department, also spoke at the Red Flag Campaign event. Hall believes it is important for people to know domestic violence laws were designed to protect the victim. If the victim does not want to pursue arrest, the abuser will still be arrested if the officer believes there is probable cause.
There are many ways to recognize domestic violence. According to Christi Serabian, Administrative Services Manager at the YWCA and one of the workshop speakers, a potential batterer has many telltale signs aside from committing physical abuse. The individual will have a short temper, a controlling personality and poor self-esteem. He or she can also be hypersensitive, critical, and hit walls or break objects. In addition, Serabian believes a huge red flag is if the individual grew up in a violent environment. On the flip side, a victim may be afraid to disagree with the abuser and willingly does everything that is asked, because he or she is afraid of the abuser's reaction.
Most violent relationships go through three stages which are called the Cycle of Violence. According to Serabian, the first stage is tension building, the second is abuse, and the third stage is the honeymoon.
"Jane Doe" a mother in her early thirties has firsthand knowledge of the stages in this Cycle of Violence in her recently divorced marriage. Doe often felt like she was "walking on eggshells" because she feared her ex-husband's frequent explosive rage. He repeatedly shoved her, once hit her with an uppercut to her stomach, banged her head into the closet door, and even dragged her down the stairs by her hair. Doe once tried to commit suicide by using his gun, but the weapon's safety was stuck. The ex-husband discovered what she was doing and proceeded to provoke her into pulling the trigger. His apologies were often mingled with excuses like "you made me do it." Doe reports she "wanted out, but didn't know how. I stuck it out for the kids and was brainwashed into thinking it was because of me." The ex-husband told her nobody wanted her, because she had two kids, only had a high school diploma, and never had a "real" job. She finally found the courage to leave him after 13 years of marriage.
Cal State Monterey Bay's Personal Growth and Counseling center offers help for victims and observers of abusive relationships. According to Christiane Dettinger, licensed Clinical Social Worker, childhood abuse or abusive relationships shape psychological development and leads people into thinking it is normal. "Both perpetrator and victim learn that violence is a part of a loving relationship," said Dettinger. They believe they do not deserve anything better. She adds, it takes an average of seven attempts to leave an abusive relationship.