CHIPS encourages people to wear purple Thursday

Published 8:49 am Monday, October 19, 2015

Everyday, someone in Carter County may be suffering from domestic violence.
It takes many forms, but one common denominator in most cases is a reluctance to seek help. Fear, isolation and a negative social stigma keep victims in hiding and in denial, but this month citizens nationwide are called on to wear purple to take a stand against domestic violence.
Change is Possible (CHIPS) Family Violence Shelter is asking Carter County residents to wear purple or to display a purple ribbon to give hope and courage to those suffering, and to honor those that have sought help and escaped abusive relationships.
Those that participate are encouraged to post photos of themselves in purple to the CHIPS Facebook page to show support.
CHIPS originated in 1992 and has a confidential safe house in Unicoi County. The organization offers outreach services including core advocacy, assistance with filing orders of protection and referral to legal aid. A support group meets on the fourth Friday of every month for anyone currently in an abusive relationship and for people that have healthy adult relationships, but suffered as children. The group meets at 217 S. Main Ave. in Erwin from 1-2 p.m.
“I believe that our program is extremely effective,” said core advocate Renae Tipton. “When they come, they’re scared and alone, and a lot of them only have the clothes on their back, and they’ve left the only life they’ve known.”
She said, on average, it takes a victim leaving home seven times seeking help before they will leave for good.
“We assisted 17 different families last year, and were able to help each live violence free lives,” she said.
With a rehousing grant, CHIPS can assist people who have lost their homes due to domestic violence. If individuals qualify, they can receive assistance with paying a deposit on a new place, getting utilities turned on and with paying the first three months of rent and utility bills.
Precisely determining the number of people that suffer from domestic violence is virtually impossible to do because of discrepancies over the definitions of abuse that vary from study to study.
To show how prevalent the problem is, CHIPS printed out name cards of those that had died from domestic violence in Greene, Carter and Unicoi Counties in the last few years — totaling 8 people — and has them on display at the office.
According to a report by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for the years 2012-2014 for Tennessee, juveniles accounted for approximately 10 percent of domestic violence victims, and 58.9 percent of these 23,495 children reported their parent or step-parent as the offender.
A 1998 study titled “Safety Behaviors of Abused Women Following an Intervention Program offered During Pregnancy” revealed that 50 percent of men that frequently assault their wives also frequently assault their children.
Females were three times more likely to be victimized than males, accounting for 71.8 percent of all domestic violence offenses.
Focus studies and discussions frequently overlook the cases in which men are victimized, which account for 28.2 percent of domestic violence cases in Tennessee.
“It’s not just men against women, it’s also women against men,” Tipton said. “There are no boundaries.”
Determining what constitutes domestic abuse can be a painful process for an individual, especially if he or she is in denial.
The state study included offenses such as murder, kidnapping, rape, sexual assault, incest, aggravated assault, simple assault, intimidation and stalking. Simple assault accounted for 68.4 percent of all domestic violence offenses.
Tipton said that abuse does not have to be physical — it can be verbal or emotional and may manifest itself in a person seeking to control and degrade another. Often, abusers attempt to isolate their victim and to cultivate a sense of worthlessness, Tipton said. Abuser might say things like, “You’re not smart enough to get that job,” or, “You’re not pretty enough to be in public,” or, “You’re not good enough for someone else; nobody will love you,” as a means of degrading their victim into tolerating the abuse, Tipton said.
People struggle with when to draw the line because the abuse often comes from someone they love.
The most frequently reported instances in the state records were between a boyfriend and girlfriend, accounting for 45.2 percent of instances. Victims were six times more likely to be abused by a spouse than by an ex-spouse.
Reporting an abuser or seeking counseling or shelter can be a major hurdle to surmount for many victims.
“A lot of times, they don’t even realize it’s happening because it comes on slowly, and they think it’s normal and don’t realize the damage that’s being done till its too late,” said Tipton. “After bruises, cuts and wounds heal, they still have those emotional scars.”
“In some cases, verbal and psychological abuse can be worse because it’s always in you, years later, it can haunt you,” she added.
CHIPS depends on grants, donations and funding from its thrift store as its source of funding. To make a donation, contact the main office at 423-743-0022. Those suffering from domestic abuse should call the local crisis hotline at 423-388-8281.

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