by Tory Butterworth
You know the fantasy. You're walking to your car in a deserted parking garage at night, alone. Your nerves are on edge. You're alert for any unexplained noise or movement. Just as you are reaching towards your car door, you feel a hand pressed against your mouth, stifling your screams . . .
As scary as this fantasy may be, the fact is, women are nine times as likely to be attacked at home than outside it. And I'm not talking about strangers breaking and entering, I'm talking about abusive partners in relationships. It's known as, "Intimate Partner Violence," or IPV. It's a form of domestic violence, which also includes child and elder abuse.
It's not the people you don't know who are most likely to hurt you, it's those you know all too well.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the second largest employer in Allegheny County (after Wal-Mart) did an anonymous survey and found that close to 40% of its female employees reported an experience of intimate partner violence some time in their adult life. Male employees were about half as likely to report IPV. This is pretty typical of national figures, which show between 25 and 45% of women have experienced IPV.
Many women don't recognize the signs of potential abuse until they are far into a relationship.
Why do they stay? One reason is a realistic fear of further violence. Abused women are most likely to be killed as they leave the relationship. Other reasons include belief in the perpetrator's promises to change, shame and embarrassment, social isolation, financial dependence, lack of alternative housing, and the immobilization that's often a result of \physical and psychological trauma.
Between 43% and 70% of battered women do eventually end their relationships with violent partners, but on the average it takes 3 to 5 attempts and about 7 years. It's not an easy thing to do.
I've often commented that I don't read fiction to scare me, real life is scary enough. This is just one example.
So, next time you're looking for a suspect for your mystery or thriller, you may not have far to go. While the cliché in mysteries may be, "the butler did it," in relationships it's, "the partner did it."
Do these statistics surprise you?