Domestic violence and intimate partner violence occur in many forms, and unfortunately, can often escalate from emotional and verbal abuse to physical and sexual abuse. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has added cyber abuse to the types of controlling behavior used to isolate and persecute people experiencing domestic violence. They include a thorough description of what constitutes cyber abuse in the “ Abuse Defined ” section of their website. All forms of intimate partner violence and domestic violence involve one partner dominating and controlling another.
Citing statistics gathered in the CDC’s 2010 report, this section of “ The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey ” from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence identifies the scope of the problem:
· On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
· 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been the victim of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
· 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
· 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. 1
With so many people affected by this national health crisis, most people reading this article most likely know someone who has been affected by this type of violence, whether they have chosen to reveal it or not.
In 2015 the National Network to End Domestic Violence conducted a 24-hour survey of services provided in each state. In Pennsylvania, in that single day, “1,332 domestic violence victims (697 children and 635 adults) found refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing provided by local domestic violence programs.” Additionally, “1,268 adults and children received non-residential assistance and services, including counseling, legal advocacy, and children’s support groups.” The survey also revealed 748 hotline calls were answered in a single 24-hour period.
Here in Mercer County, Aware , the local domestic violence agency and rape crisis center, provides a hotline (888-981-1457) for “information, referrals and a sympathetic ear.” Sexual assault response teams are available 24/7, as are emergency response advocates who “can transport women and children to emergency housing throughout Mercer County” when called to “local emergency rooms, police stations, or other safe spaces.” Devoted to providing “a structured program of advocacy, support groups, education, and support” to help “victims develop skills to break the bonds with violence,” Aware’s services also include individual and legal advocacy, youth services, support groups, elder victim advocacy, and the PAWS program, which provides shelter for the pets of those leaving abusive situations. For a complete list of their programs visit their website at www.merceraware.org .
The magnitude of domestic violence extends far beyond what happens in any single moment. Short and long term health consequences for those experiencing abuse, living in abusive households, and surviving abuse are complex and often difficult to identify. In her October 17, 2016 blog post for the US Dept. of Health and Human Services , Mary Smith, Principal Deputy Director, Indian Health Service, notes that, in general, intimate partner violence has been:
…correlated with an increased risk of heart disease, asthma, chronic pain syndromes, gastrointestinal disorders, sexually transmitted infections, gynecological and pregnancy complications. There are emotional and psychological consequences such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. Adverse health behaviors associated with IPV [intimate partner violence] include high-risk sexual activity, alcohol and substance use and an increased risk for suicide.
The highest rates of IPV occur in women of childbearing age, but early screening and detection of IPV along with appropriate intervention may increase the safety of these women. The impact on children exposed to IPV has wide implications including increased risk for physical, sexual, emotional neglect, harm and death.
With so many physical, emotional, and behavioral consequences facing individuals and their family members when dealing with intimate partner violence, it can be difficult to identify a potentially abusive relationship. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) notes that “many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.” They also caution that “Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partners.”
The NDVH highlights the following categories of abusive and controlling behavior:
· Physical abuse
· Emotional abuse (including verbal abuse)
· Sexual abuse and coercion
· Reproductive coercion
· Financial abuse
· Digital abuse
Abusive behavior escalates over time, or as the controlling partner feels more secure in the relationship. Markers of security can include increased intimacy while dating, sharing living space, marriage, or the birth of a child, with each marker making it more difficult for the person being abused to complain or leave the relationship. Yet, each case is different, and people experiencing abuse may never be able to pinpoint when or how it started. Additionally, the emotional and verbal abuse which often start such a cycle are designed to confuse and isolate, decreasing people’s self-confidence, their contacts with others, and their ability to recognize the verbal and emotional tactics being used against them.
People in doubt about their relationships can consider safely reaching out in confidence to a doctor, counselor, or hotline to discuss their situations. See the list of resources below for local and national hotlines.
Community Counseling Center of Mercer County provides assistance to people to help manage exposure to domestic or intimate partner violence. These services include counseling, mental health management, support groups, youth services, alcohol and addiction recovery services, and referrals to Aware for legal advocacy or to other local support agencies and groups.
People concerned that they may be engaging in abusive behaviors and who are looking to begin a journey toward non-abusive interactions with the people in their lives can also contact CCC for assistance.
LOCAL AND NATIONAL HOTLINES (anonymous and confidential assistance)
Aware: serving Mercer Co., PA sexual assault and domestic violence hotline 1-888-981-1457
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: assistance in over 170 languages 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
RAINN: national hotline for sexual assault 1-800-656-4673
Abuse defined (n.d.) Found in The national domestic violence hotline. Retrieved from
Aware. [pamphlet]. (n.d.)
Aware. (n.d.) Retrieved from www.merceraware.org
Domestic violence counts: A 24-Hour census of domestic violence shelters and
services, pennsylvania. (2015) Found in National network to end domestic violence. Retrieved from http://nnedv.org/downloads/Census/DVCounts2015/Pennsylvania.pdf
National statistics. (n.d.) Found in The national coalition against domestic violence.
Retrieved from http://ncadv.org/learn-more/statistics
Smith, Mary. (2016, October 17) October is domestic violence awareness month.Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/blog/2016/10/17/october-is-domestic-violence-awareness-month.html
When the Great Recession struck the nation in 2008, it decimated the economy. Many people lost their jobs and homes. Many people struggled to get by for years.
While politicians and Wall Street claim the economy has recovered, Main Street has a vastly different view of its current state.
Today, more than one in five children live in poverty, according to the 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book , an annual publication that assesses child well-being nationally and across the 50 states, as well as in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It uses an index of 16 indicators to rank states on overall child well-being and in economic well-being, education, health and family and community. Of all 16 indicators, the one that carries the most weight and has the largest social impact is child poverty.
The report found that 22% of children live in poverty, up from 18% in 2008. Hardest hit were African-Americans and American Indians, whose rates of poverty had nearly doubled. The South and the Southwest were the regions most impacted by child poverty.
The reasons for this are multitude and complex, but things like slashed social safety nets, decreased incomes, decreased income stability, and single-parent (and therefor, single income) homes have all contributed to the rise in child poverty.
According to the KIDS COUNT report, 1 in 3 children from Mississippi live in poverty. The state with the best overall child well-being, based on indicators including economic standing, education and health, was Minnesota.
Harrisburg, PA – Governor Wolf today announced a decline in the commonwealth’s uninsured rate from 6.4 percent in 2015 to 5.6 percent in 2016, the lowest on record. Before the Affordable Care Act was implemented and Governor Wolf expanded Medicaid, Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate was more than 10 percent.
“This reduction shows that our steps to expand Medicaid and stabilize our individual market are working in Pennsylvania,” said Governor Wolf. “Thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Insurance Department and Department of Human Services to advocate on behalf of all Pennsylvanians, and despite the conversation around health reform at the federal level, we remain committed to furthering the progress made by the Affordable Care Act. We will continue to work to ensure that Pennsylvanians have access to quality coverage at an affordable price and advocate in a bipartisan way to fix Obamacare at the federal level.”
Pennsylvania’s 5.6 percent uninsured rate was released as part of a national study on health insurance coverage for 2016 based on current population reports issued by the United States Census Bureau earlier this week. The decrease continues the downward trend Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate has been on since 2013, making 2016’s 5.6 percent the commonwealth’s lowest ever uninsured rate, down from more than 10 percent when the Affordable Care Act was passed. The national uninsured rate fell 0.3 percent to 8.8 percent in 2016.
“The Affordable Care Act has helped more than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians access health coverage,” Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said. “Governor Wolf’s adoption of Medicaid expansion has helped more than 711,000 people receive coverage since January 2015, and 426,000 have purchased coverage on the individual market at Healthcare.gov.”
“When Governor Wolf expanded Medicaid in Pennsylvania, hundreds of thousands of uninsured were then able to obtain access to health care coverage,” said Acting Secretary for Human Services Teresa Miller. “Before expansion, most of these individuals either couldn’t afford coverage or didn’t have access to it. Additionally, the ACA provided the commonwealth’s former foster kids with health care coverage until age 26. This decline in the uninsured rate is truly one to celebrate.”
While being kind might sound easy, it is complex. If kindness was simple, then everyone would be kind and no one would experience meanness and bullying. Imagine a world where kindness is the norm. Is it possible to create homes, schools, and communities where kindness is the norm? The answer is, yes – but to make this imagined world a reality, we need to teach, model, and reward kindness.
Being kind means that you think about the needs and concerns of others. Kind people volunteer, help others, and think about bigger issues that affect their communities. Compassionate thinking and generous actions demonstrate kindness.
Unfortunately, many schools respond to negative behaviors such as bullying with punishment, which is thought to reduce or eliminate such behaviors. After years of research on “zero-tolerance” to end bullying and violence, we know that these punishment-based approaches do not work. Given this knowledge, it makes better sense to focus on teaching and modeling pro-social behavior, like teaching kindness.
Key Elements in Teaching Kindness
Although kindness programs can vary, most share these approaches:
Ways to Teach Kindness
The Impact of Teaching Kindness
When elementary students performed three acts of kindness per week they significantly increased their acceptance of peers compared to kids who did not perform three kind acts of kindness. Students who are taught kindness are more empathic, more socially aware and connected, and they receive higher grades too. Be kind—it is free and the payback is good for all!
Additional Online Resources
Originally from Lexington, Dr. Wozniak moved to Louisville to attend Bellarmine University where she also played soccer. She received her medical education and residency training at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Together with her colleagues, she started River City Psychiatry in 2009 upon completion of residency training. Dr. Wozniak is a Board Certified adult psychiatrist who commonly treats people with adult ADHD, PTSD, mood disorders such as bipolar and depression, and anxiety disorders. She also has a special interest in treating athletes with mental illness and is a member of the International Society for Sport Psychiatry. She collaborates with patients and other providers/therapists when necessary, to create a customized treatment plan for each individual.
Part of eliminating the stigma surrounding the disease of substance abuse disorder includes fostering the same attitudes granted toward others with chronic conditions (such as heart disease, asthma, or cancer). As Mary Pollock, MA, LPC, notes in her article Chasing the Dragon (Part Two) , “Addiction is a brain disease. Many people have difficulty separating the person from the disease. . . what we see are the behaviors that develop over time which support the addiction. These behaviors are what cause relationship issues within a family. . .The addicted individual becomes unable to respond to his environment in a healthy, adaptive manner as the addiction takes over the brain.”
For those with substance abuse disorders or their families and friends, finding a genuinely helpful response can be difficult. Training in true compassion can provide a path and a framework for decision-making. But true compassion is not well understood.
As Deniz Ahmadinia, Psy.D explains in Practicing Mindfulness Through Kindness and Compassion , “We hold all these misconceptions about what it is to be compassionate and kind, including that it makes us weak, that it’s a form of self-pity, that it’s indulgent, and that it gets in the way of success. Our competitive, tech-driven, busy culture instead believes that being hard on one’s self is the key to achieving goals.” A strong will and drive to succeed is necessary in recovery as in life, but being harsh and unrealistically cold with ourselves and others is counter-productive.
Ahmadinia continues by pointing out: “The reality is that the great majority of us struggle with a judgmental voice when we don’t live up to our own expectations, and it is this voice that judges others as well.” She suggests this can lead “to persistent negative emotions, doubt, feelings of worthlessness, shame and feeling disconnected from people around us.” These negative emotions and a lack of connection to the people around us can be triggers or barriers for those with a substance abuse disorder or other mental health disorder.
The concept of learning and practicing compassion and self-compassion is starting to gain a foothold in the literature about other mental and behavioral health issues as the fight against stigma grows. It is time to bring this powerful and useful tool and skill set into our discussions of recovery from substance abuse disorder as well, not as something only offered by others to someone on the path, but as something the person engaging in recovery can learn, practice, and use.
Life is messy. Waiting for the perfect time to start living wholeheartedly with a focus on wellness and recovery doesn’t work. No perfect time exists. Now is the time to consider recovery as a path to the life you actually want to live. Everybody starts where they are, no matter how messy or disorganized it is, and they move forward.
Living with the profound discomfort and agitation caused by giving up a substance or a behavior adopted to try to manage life’s difficulties is not easy, but recovery does happen. People are successful, even if relapse is a part of their path, just as relapse is often a part of many chronic diseases. Many paths to recovery exist, so a person can tailor their recovery path to their own needs and circumstances.
Practicing compassion for self and others can be a powerful tool for those who have chosen a path of recovery and for those of their loved ones and friends who are walking this path with them. As Pema Chodron notes in Comfortable with Uncertainty , “We cultivate compassion to soften our hearts and also to become more honest and forgiving about when and how we shut down” toward ourselves or toward others (73). She also draws attention to the fact that “we learn as much about doing this from our failures as we do from our success. In cultivating compassion, we draw from the wholeness of our experience – our suffering, our empathy, as well as our cruelty and terror.” (73)
The need for total honesty, for seeing ourselves and our behaviors clearly and with perspective, is an essential part of cultivating both compassion for others and self-compassion. Compassion does not excuse behaviors, but instead comprehends the difficulty of change. Compassion includes setting proper boundaries for others and for ourselves, to promote positive interactions and discourage negative interactions.
The practice of compassion encourages people to recognize difficult emotions, and learn to sit with them, live with them as a normal part of life, and not try to escape them. It does not mean repressing negative emotions, but accepting them and dealing with them without taking actions that might injure ourselves or others. According to Pema Chodron, “It has to be this way. Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” (73) Learning about compassion illustrates both our need for compassion and for the connections to others and to the larger world that is an essential component of a recovery plan.
Fostering true, clear-sighted compassion for oneself – that accepts flaws and works with them rather than trying to escape the past or push them down – is not necessarily easy to achieve. Serious thought, and yes, actual practice are necessary to train your mind toward compassion and away from harsh judgment or negative self-talk. In Learning Compassion for Yourself , Rita Chin discusses her battle with panic disorder and what it took for her to really consider her self-talk when dealing with panic.
Chin remembers ”thinking about those forty million Americans I’d read about. Where were they? Were they sitting on their front steps clutching their knees to their chests like me? Did they also feel alone? Hopeless? Defective? . . . I wondered how many people I’d unknowingly passed who were also struggling under the weight of a fear that seemed as vast as the universe itself. And I wondered what I would do if I met such a person. Unlike the elusive answers to the many questions I’d asked about my own panic, this answer was easy: I would reach out my hand. I would say, ‘You’re not alone. And you’re stronger than you feel in this moment.’”
Discovering what you might say to someone else, even a stranger, who came to you struggling with the same things you are, is often a first step. Many of us are kinder to strangers in our thoughts and ideas than we are to ourselves or loved ones. This is often because a stranger has not disappointed us in any way. We can react with compassion, find out how a compassionate response feels to us, by considering what we would say to someone who doesn’t have an emotional history with us. Then we can work on granting ourselves and our loved ones a measure of this same compassion.
Deniz Ahmadinia’s article Practicing Mindfulness Through Kindness and Compassion also outlines a way to literally practice being compassionate by extending your compassion outward from someone you care about or a pet, to yourself, and to others, slowly, a step a time, simply observing your reactions without judgment as you practice. It takes time and resolve to begin making the changes involved in a recovery journey. Practicing compassion as a skill to be developed is one way you can work to make the path kinder to yourself and to others.
September is National Recovery Month, a time to celebrate those in recovery or on the path to it, and to encourage those who are beginning a recovery journey. As noted in What is Substance Abuse Treatment: A Booklet for Families , substance abuse disorders affect families and friends as well as the person with the disorder. If you or someone you care for needs help managing self-care, or if you are someone who is interested in pursuing a recovery journey, please contact Community Counseling Center of Mercer County to make and appoint by calling 724-981-7141 or toll free at 866-853-7758 and TTY: at 724-981-4327. For more information about Community Counseling Center of Mercer County, visit our website or our Facebook page .
Community Counseling Center regularly provides speakers for community groups, employers, schools and other audiences interested in behavioral health topics. For more information or to schedule a speaker, contact Mary Pollock, outpatient administrator, at (724) 981-7141, ext. 143, or by email at email@example.com .
Ahmadinia, Deniz, Psy.D. (2016, Nov. 2) Practicing Mindfulness through Kindness and Compassion. Retrieved from: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2016/Practicing-Mindfulness-through-Kindness-and-Compas
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2014) [PDF] What Is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families . HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4126. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from: https://store.samhsa.gov/product/What-Is-Substance-Abuse-Treatment-A-Booklet-for-Families/SMA14-4126
Chin, Rita. (2015, Aug 14) Learning Compassion for Yourself . Retrieved from: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/August-2015/Learning-Compassion-for-Yourself
Chodron, Pema. (2003) Comfortable with Uncertainty : 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion . Boston: Shambala.
Pollock Mary, MA, LPC, CCDP, NCC, MAC, DCORT. (2017) Chasing the dragon (Part 2) Retrieved from: http://www.cccmer.org/chasing-the-dragon-part-2nonic�
To help an addict recover from addiction, Mark Britton believes you have to listen to the addict. He’s speaking from experience.
“Not only do I work in recovery, but I’m active in recovery,” he explained. He works as a certified peer specialist in the field, while celebrating nine years clean and sober himself.
What does he believe loved ones should hear from addicts?
“We do not plan to fail. I do not wake up every morning and say, ‘I’m going to fail,” he said. “I do however fail to plan.”
Gateway Rehab's mission is to help all affected by addictive
diseases to become healthy in body, mind and spirit. A key word in our
mission is the word "all." We're not just about the recovering
addict or alcoholic, but everyone involved in the processes of recovery:
friends, family, therapists, counselors, the public in general, and others
touched in some way by addiction.
To help connect those affected by addiction, Gateway Rehab is excited to announce the launching of The Roads to Recovery , a blog that will provide hope, inspiration, motivation, education and other insights about the world of addiction.
Our first blog entry focuses on the lifelong process of addiction. Future posts will help inspire and motivate those in recovery, as well as educate and inform others about addiction treatment and further aspects of the addiction industry. Additionally, there will be frequent posts featuring our founder, Dr. Abraham Twerski.We invite you to connect with The Roads to Recovery by visiting www.gatewayrehab.org/blog . Our hope is that we provide an impactful account of the many roads to recovery.
GET HELP NOW. CALL 800-472-1177Click here to find a location near you
Preparing to go to college involves many things to consider, including living arrangements, transportation, finances, managing class loads, and managing healthcare using the resources at your chosen college. As a college student, it’s important to understand that good mental health practices can help you maintain your equilibrium during a period of significant growth and change.
The Stamp Out Stigma campaign was launched in 2014 as
multiple agencies recognized that stigma about mental health kept people from
accessing care. Contrary to common belief, 90 percent of those who seek help
for mental health issues are able to greatly reduce their symptoms. Stigma
about mental health care for those with or without a specific diagnosis is
usually based in misunderstanding and myth. Those false beliefs about mental
illness can cause significant problems, including a lack of understanding or
support, discrimination, reluctance to get treatment early, or a loss of hope.
Other significant facts at the core of the Stamp Out Stigma campaign include:
An estimated 26 percent of adults have a diagnosable
ages 9 to 17 have a diagnosable mental or addictive illness.
One in two of us will have a mental health issue during our lifetime.Less than one-third of adults with a mental health issue will get help.
Stamp Out Stigma seeks to “reduce the stigma of mental illness and substance use disorders by talking about them.” Conversations are designed to:
Recognize when you or your loved ones need help. Recognize the signs.
Recognize when someone isn’t getting the help they need.
Recognize when stigma is creating a barrier to care.
Recognize the high prevalence of mental illness.
others to help them
learn there is help and hope.