Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person.
Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, no matter their size, gender or strength. The problem of domestic violence is often overlooked, excused or denied. Whether it’s emotional, verbal or physical, it can leave deep and lasting scars with victims and those witnessing the abuse.
Those who have been abused, whether they’ve experienced abuse in their own relationships or within their family, have a place to go to recover and talk with others who have been in the same situation. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Health and Human Services Department Behavioral Health Division hosts a Domestic Violence Support Group every Thursday at the Central Intake Center.
“The group mainly consists of women, but men are always welcome to come and join,” said Senior Behavioral Health Counselor Leolani Ah Quin. “We serve victims, teaching them the basics of how to identify the behaviors and signs of domestic violence. We do a mix of counseling and education and mainly try to be there for each other.”
The group varies in attendance, explained Ah Quin, with about seven to nine women currently attending.
Aside from providing education about the signs of domestic violence, the group works on developing communication skills, teaches how to write a resume and get a GED, and how to interview for a job and apply for college. Ah Quin also will link support group members to the Fresh Start Women’s Foundation in Phoenix.
The group also takes field trips, visiting the Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, Phoenix Indian Center and Mesa’s Family Resources Center. In February, the group held a potluck, and Ah Quin invited her relatives, who are cosmetologists, to provide pedicures and manicures for the women.
In addition to her work with the Domestic Violence Support Group, Ah Quin teaches the Healthy Relationships and Teen Dating Violence sessions at Salt River High School during the weekly health classes offered by Senior Behavioral Health Counselor Alvaro Canez.
“A lot of it is recognizing behavior and educating [the students] on the resources that are available to them, just in case they need to contact someone now or in the future,” said Ah Quin.
The Domestic Violence Support Group meets every Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Central Intake Center. For more information, call the Central Intake Center at (480) 362-5500 or Ah Quin at (480) 362-5703.
Types of Domestic Abuse
Emotional Abuse: Emotional abuse is like brainwashing in that it wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self-worth, trust in their own perceptions and self-concept.
Verbal Abuse: Verbal abuse is best described as an ongoing emotional environment organized by the abuser for the purposes of control.
Physical Abuse: Physical abuse is physical force or violence that results in bodily injury, pain or impairment. It includes assault, battery and inappropriate restraint.
Domestic violence has wide-ranging and sometimes long-term effects on victims, both physical and psychological. Victims may also experience physical injury, chronic pelvic pain, abdominal and gastrointestinal complaints, frequent vaginal and urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV.
Psychological effects include depression, suicide attempts, nightmares, anxiety, emotional numbing, insomnia, hypervigilance, and avoidance of traumatic triggers.
Children may develop behavioral or emotional difficulties after experiencing physical abuse in the context of domestic violence or after witnessing parental abuse. Responses in children may vary from aggression to withdrawal to sleep disturbances. In addition, children may develop symptoms of depression and anxiety, and for some these effects may be passed on in their future relationships.