Talking about Domestic Violence

Something feels “off” about your relationship, but you just can’t put your finger on it.

Is it bad that your significant other wants to spend so much time with you that you don’t have time for your other friends, or to visit your family? That they don’t want you to wear your favorite outfit when you go out with them, because you “look so good that other people will stare at you”?

You wonder: Do other people’s live-in partners give them an allowance or make them feel guilty about how they spend their money?

And when people talk about domestic violence, do they mean physical violence — or can it be something else?

Questions like these come up all the time at Townhall II, a rape crisis center in Kent that also provides Portage County residents with free, confidential counseling regarding intimate partner violence or domestic (live-in) partner violence. If you call the help line, the person who answers will ask a few questions to determine your concerns and needs — if you’ve been raped, if you’re suicidal, if you’re in an abusive/dangerous relationship – and put you in touch with someone who can help.

Power and Control, Not Sex

If your concern is about domestic violence or intimate relationship violence, you might reach Inola Howe, a senior psychology major at Kent State University who provides educational outreach programming to the Portage County community in addition to working Townhall II’s 24/7 Crisis Helpline (330.678.4357). Howe recently spoke at the first event of the Title IX Programming Series presented by NEOMED’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“Many people think that domestic violence is about sex, but really it’s more about power and control,” said Howe. “Memories of mental and emotional abuse last the longest. Twenty years later, people still remember emotional abuse.”

And while financial abuse is not always identified as such, a partner who holds the purse strings may exert a lot of emotional power over a poorer partner, especially if drugs – and their expenses — come into the picture.

Popping myths

Howe dispelled a few misconceptions, including a big one: Because of the stigma around the topic, men don’t usually want to use the words “domestic abuse,” but men can be raped and emotionally abused, too.

Men and women alike often feel guilty and ashamed about staying in a relationship that’s abusive, but counselors work to help them see that the fault is not theirs. Not only do the counselors strive not to judge their clients, said Howe. They will also keep your conversation confidential.

And unless the abuse involves a child under 18 or a person over 65, the organization is not required to report the incident to authorities, so privacy is protected. “Client safety and children’s safety are our top priority,” said Howe.

Help yourself; help a friend

Abusive relationships are most dangerous when a person is trying to leave them. That’s why Townhall II counselors are trained to help callers carefully create a safety plan for how to leave and start over.

All are welcome to use the Townhall II help line, which is free. Call for yourself or call for a friend; if you need help, it’s there for the asking.

Townhall II 24-hour Crisis Helpline: 330.678.HELP

Townhall II walk-In services: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

                                   Townhall II

                                    155 N. Water St.

                                 Kent, OH 44240


Save the Date!

The next Title IX program on NEOMED’s Embracing Diversity series will be Let's Talk About It: Dating & Technology, to be held Monday, Nov. 26, at noon at Regula Training Room 106. Inola Howe of Townhall II will present the session.

Register here for the free lunchtime event. The password is title9.

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