National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Eating Disorders and Domestic Violence: Is There a Correlation?

Since it was recently National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, we wanted to take a second to talk with you about the relationship between domestic violence and eating disorders.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) defines these illnesses as extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can be life-threatening.

Like domestic violence, the root of eating disorders is a need for control.

However, unlike with domestic violence, this need for control does not come from a place of feeling superior or entitled to power. Instead, people who suffer from eating disorders often feel that they have no control over their lives or the things that happen to them, they feel inadequate or have low self-esteem or they suffer from severe depression, anger, anxiety or loneliness.

NEDA lists troubled family and personal relationships and history of physical or sexual abuse as two of the greatest interpersonal factors which cause people to develop eating disorders.

People who are suffering from eating disorders often use their obsession with food as a means of gaining back the control and order which they feel has been taken from them or lost in other aspects of their life.

Victims of domestic abuse have been stripped of their power and have very little to no control over their own lives or actions. They are physically and emotionally abused and are often deeply depressed and self-conscious. Abusers often isolate their victims from their families and friends so they feel as if they have no one to turn or talk to.

All of these things converge and form a kind of perfect storm and so it’s very likely that a person who is suffering from abuse will develop an eating disorder.

We want to remind you that if you or a friend or family member is a victim of domestic violence, we are here to help. We want to provide resources and guidance so that we can reduce the instances of self-harm in response to abuse.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please contact the NEDA information and referral hotline today at 1-800-931-2237.

As always, we encourage you to contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline if you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

The Hotline Turns 16

Today we celebrate our 16 year anniversary. We are thankful that we have been able to help victims of domestic violence for the past decade and a half.

The Hotline was founded in 1996 as part of the Violence Against Women Act passed by Congress. The Hotline is the only national domestic violence hotline that has access to more than 4,500 shelters and domestic violence programs throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Each month, The Hotline’s advocates receive approximately 23,500 calls. We operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in more than 170 languages through interpreter services, with a TTY line available for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing. We are toll-free, confidential and anonymous.

The Hotline currently has about 85 staff members, both paid and volunteer. Of those employees, 12 have been at The Hotline for over 10 years, including one of our volunteers.

We have been featured in many magazines and television shows (reaching a variety of different demographics), including (but not limited to): Oprah, Dr. Phil, Maury Povich, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, Nancy Grace, Larry King, Judge Pirro, Tyra Banks, Montel, Good Morning America, Despierta America, 20/20, MTV’s 16 & Pregnant, Redbook, Glamour, Essence, Ebony and Teen Vogue.

We are proud of the past 16 years and feel grateful for the chance to make a difference in the lives of men and women living with domestic violence. We would like to thank all of our supporters and volunteers for helping us — we couldn’t do it without you. We look forward to our future work, and hope that you will join with us in promoting healthy relationships and spreading the word that violence is unacceptable.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

The Dangers of Sharing Passwords

A New York Times article recently discussed the growing trend of teens sharing passwords with their significant others as a sign of intimacy. However, this tendency goes beyond teenage relationships, and more and more adults are finding themselves being tempted to give their passwords to their partners.

Technology has created a whole new realm for our relationships to live in — the digital world. We email our partners and share digital calendars with them, letting each other know every move we plan to make. We text them, sending pictures of where we are and who we are with. We have them as Facebook friends and post and comment on each others’ walls and pictures.

As if this ability to see our every thought and action weren’t enough, sharing passwords to email and social media accounts has now become a display of commitment for some couples.

People who choose to share passwords with their partner often argue that they have nothing to hide. They say that password sharing is the ultimate sign of affection and commitment. It gives the other person in the relationship complete access to everything that they do on the internet. It removes all barriers between the couple.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always that simple.

Sharing a password is like sharing a social security number. It gives our partner access to everything that we do online — even to our online identity.

For someone in an abusive relationship, sharing passwords can be a way to extend the abuser’s power and control over the victim. By obtaining a password, an abuser is able to use the digital realm to affect a victim’s offline daily life.

They can monitor actions, watch bank accounts to limit access to money, isolate the victim by controlling social media interactions and even use online activities as validation or excuses for abuse. This extension of control can be extremely dangerous.

Even in healthy relationships, sharing passwords is risky. When we choose to share a password with our partner, we give up a large amount of privacy. We open ourselves up to the opportunity that our partner might not like what we are saying or doing and give them the chance to moderate us and our actions.

We have to decide whether or not losing our privacy is worth the trust or security our partner gains.

Things get even more challenging if the relationship turns sour. The New York Times also recently discussed how this digital obsession is redefining what it means to break up.

If things begin to go bad, a partner with a password can search email and social media for hints of infidelity. They might become angered to see that their ex is talking to someone whom they dislike.

A partner might become angry during an argument or break up and threaten to spread personal details of their partner’s lives via email or social media. What happens if they follow through on that threat?

There’s also the potential that an angered partner could lock the other person out of his or her own account. If they have the password, they can easily change it. This creates a very real opportunity for identity theft or impersonation.

By giving your passwords to your partner, you are potentially empowering them to use the information against you. When you’re in a relationship with someone, you bring out the best in each other, but break ups often tend to have the opposite effect.

Ultimately, whether or not you share a password with your partner is your choice. You are the expert in your own relationship and you know what’s normal and safe and comfortable for you. What are your thoughts on password sharing? Can you think of more benefits? Can you think of more drawbacks?

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

What Makes Teen Dating Abuse Unique

Teen dating abuse can be as serious and scary as violence within an adult relationship. The abuse faced by teens can manifest itself in a variety of forms including physical, verbal and digital. We wanted to shed a light on dating abuse as February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

There are a lot of similarities between teen dating abuse and domestic violence, but there are also quite a few differences.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what a teen relationship is. Teens often use unique language to define their own relationships, using terms like talking, hanging out, hooking up or friends with benefits. These teen relationships can be extremely casual or extremely serious, and abuse can happen in any of these situations.

Unfortunately because many teens identify their relationships as being casual, they don’t realize that they can experience dating abuse. If they do realize, they often struggle with reaching out and telling someone about their abuse.

There is often a communication disconnect between teens and their parents or other adults. Teens may feel reluctant about reaching out to adults because of this lack of trust or comfort.  A teen’s first confidant will more than likely be a friend.

Teens that are new to dating may have unrealistic or unhealthy expectations. If teens don’t feel that they have strong models of healthy relationships to look up to, they may look to popular culture to learn what a relationship should look like. This can be problematic with the promotion of unhealthy relationships like those seen on TV or on the radio. These examples of relationships can be negative and often romanticize or fail to condemn unhealthy behaviors. This affects not only how teens perceive their own relationships, but also the type of advice that they give to their friends.

It’s difficult for teens to get away from their abusive partners. Teens may not drive, may not have a vehicle or may be limited in where they are allowed to drive. They often attend the same school as their abuser, so it’s difficult to avoid seeing their partner daily. They may share a friend group with their abuser, so it’s hard for them to know who they can trust.

Because of these difficulties, teens sometimes feel like it’s impossible to end the relationship or to get away from their abuser. They may not seek resources from their school or community for protection.

If you know a young adult who is in an unhealthy relationship, or would like to learn more about dating abuse, please visit www.loveisrespect.org. The site loveisrespect.org features an online chat run by peer advocates from the National Dating Abuse Helpline, and can provide intervention via phone at 1-877-331-9474 or through text at 77054 or through their online chat.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

OB-GYNs, Neurologists Encourage Routine Domestic Violence Screenings

An article released yesterday by the LA Times details the efforts of national OB-GYN and neurological associations to promote routine domestic violence screenings of patients.

In response to the high rates of domestic violence around the nation, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) have both called on their members to perform routine examinations of their patients for signs of abuse.

A report issued by the ACOG states that 25 percent of women have been physically or sexually assaulted by a partner. Because OB-GYNs see patients throughout their lives, they are in a unique position to help identify domestic violence victims and intervene to potentially prevent future abuse from occurring.

Neurological professionals are also getting involved. The majority of domestic violence injuries are to the head and neck. Neurologists who are able to identify the cause of these injuries have the opportunity to intervene and offer help to victims.

The involvement of these professionals could help countless victims. This conscious effort to identify abuse signifies the growing trend of a community response to domestic violence, allowing various roles in a victim’s life to do their part to intervene. With a combined total of 80,000 members, these sections of the medical workforce will be able to make a significant impact in many victims’ lives.