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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE and THE DEAF COMMUNITY

13 Feb

By Terry Loving

“They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Mark 7:37 (NASB)

deaf_button-p145598869786157029en8go_400

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“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

Mark Twain

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NOTE: The help links on this site are for all who need help, not just women)

Imagine escaping domestic violence, going to shelter, and not being able to communicate your situation to anyone there. Imagine the police knocking on your door in response to a neighbor calling about the “noise” in your home – and you are unable to tell them what you are going through. Imagine wanting to scream out loud for help but you are unable – because you are mute. These are just a few of the many obstacles that deaf woman who are abused face.

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Statistics

  • The number of deaf individuals in the United States range from 1 to 140 individuals out of 1,000 (Galludet Research Institute – Accessing Safety Initiative, 2008), though determining a number is complicated based on varying definitions of deafness
  •  Less is known about how many deaf women are victims of domestic violence, but we know that women with disabilities have higher incidences of trauma and fewer mental health options (APA, 2008)
  • Within the deaf community, there is a “double code of silence” related to domestic violence because services are typically not culturally sensitive or accessible for deaf survivors and because the deaf community has historically misunderstood or minimized the issue (Rems-Smario, 2007)
  • Deaf woman have increased barriers to services and are likely at greater risk for fatalities

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Mainstream organizations that provide services to hearing abused women most likely are unfamiliar with communicating with deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Very few organizations know and practice ASL (American Sign Language), and are uneducated concerning deaf cultural norms. These disadvantages form roadblocks to helping the deaf and hard of hearing to transition from terror to safety.

signlanguageabc

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Our society does not acknowledge deaf people belonging to any type of culture, but they do – their own. Most people view the deaf and hard of hearing as people who are handicapped, have disabilities, and people who need audio-logical services.  The Deaf Culture isn’t recognized as being on the same level as ethnic or religious cultures that may have distinctive dress codes food preferences, or specific ways of worshiping or living in general. However, according to the deaf, they have a culture – “We have a language; we have a culture,” they say.

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Whether hearing or non-hearing, or hearing impaired – the abused suffer the same components of abuse as the hearing abused. The abuse still amounts to power and control through physical, emotional, economic, spiritual, and other means of mistreatment. Concerning the deaf with hearing partners, there is added stress that the deaf or hearing impaired endure such as:

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  • Making fun of your speech or English skills
  • Making fun of your ASL style (American Sign Language)
  • Taking away your SSI checks or making you lose it by reporting additional income
  • Using ASL to make you afraid with gestures, facial expressions, or exaggerated signs, then denying it by saying that is Deaf culture to justify the behavior (example: saying you are so fat in ASL with deep or strong facial expressions, and claiming that it is permissible by Deaf culture to do so)
  • Overuse of floor stomping and pounding on the table or door to get your attention
  • Signing very close to your face when angry
  • Using intimidation with body language in ASL
  • Getting angry because you look away while he is talking
  • Checking your TTY, VRS, and Videophone conversations
  • Throwing objects as an acceptable way to get attention
  • Telling private things to people while standing next to you (example: “My wife is lousy in bed.”); justifying this action by saying that is common for Deaf people to share everything with each other
  • If you have a hearing partner, he doesn’t allow the children to use ASL to communicate with you
  • He does not tell you when people try to call you

The list is extensive, and you can read more here.

I-Love-You-in-Sign-Language

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The Domestic Violence Intervention Project of Duluth, Minnesota developed the Power and Control wheel for the deaf:

DeafHope_Power_and_Control_Wheel

As noted in the wheel, the abused suffer the same types of abuse that hearing women suffer: isolation, threats, emotional abuse, economic abuse, intimidation, using children, blaming, denying – all as a result of so called “male privilege.”

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“The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) advises, “One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Women living with disabilities have a 40 percent greater risk than women not living with disabilities.” Public awareness is a step in the right direction.”

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Few Deaf women report violence and utilize available services for several reasons:

“Deaf women don’t rely on the same services as the rest of society because of the lack of ASL, adaptive technology and understanding of Deaf culture. Information and services from domestic violence agencies, police, hotlines and courts aren’t easily accessible, especially in an emergency and may even prevent Deaf women from getting the services they need to keep safe.”

God loves deaf people

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“Most Deaf women refuse to go to domestic violence shelters or transitional housing because no one there uses sign language, no adaptive technology is available and typically there isn’t anyone available who understands Deaf culture or its relevance in providing services, which causes intense isolation. A Deaf woman in a shelter may want to return to her abuser because at least she knows what to expect, and communication with her abuser may be easier than at a shelter.”

“Deaf women, like other women fear for their safety and fear that reporting will intensify the abuse.”

stop the violence protest

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On a personal note, there is another side to this issue that makes it difficult for the deaf and hard of hearing to reach out for help. As a person who is hearing-impaired, I understand the obstacles that stand between the hearing world, and those of us who struggle to fit in. I myself am late-deafened, and this is a whole new world for me. I understand what it feels like for people to dismiss you because they do not like repeating themselves. The ignorance and being made fun of is painful.

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One lady I encountered was very surprised that I spoke so well to be hearing-impaired. Huh??? I am not mute lady! I was not born this way. This just shows the level of ignorance when it comes to people with disabilities. I myself do not like the label “handicapped,” for I am very capable of accomplishing many things. In spite of the “hand that I have been dealt,” I strive to be all that I can be, and I am sure this is true of many who have physical limitations to overcome. I also find that people with limitations to bear try harder. Employers would do well to hire those of this nature, for they would probably have more dedicated employees.

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Although I wear hearing aids, communication is often difficult – and only those who understand my frustrations are patient with me. Our society places much emphasis on so-called perfection, and have very little empathy and understanding for others who struggle with physical impairments whether blindness, deafness, or other issues. Abusing anyone is wrong and sinful. Abusing those who have to bear the burden of limitations is really low. God is not pleased.

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With the help of God, I am creating my own world. I am pretty much reclusive; however, I find other ways to communicate with people. I applaud Hamilton Web-Captel for their “free” service which makes it possible to make important phone calls I would not otherwise be able to make. I also have a TTY phone loaned free to residents of Georgia. I do not use this as much as the web captioning service and I mention these services for those who may be in need of them. Also, Goodwill of North Georgia is another organization that will assist with free assistive listening devices, employment and many other services – for free.

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If you are deaf or hearing impaired, there is help and hope.

Please make use of the links provided and find help. I will update this post often as I find useful information.

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NOTE: As a recluse, I have found my voice in writing and my mission in life. Spending a lot of time alone, with the exception of family and friends may not be for everyone, but for me – It is OK. My limitations have allowed me to become more empathic towards others who are suffering – hence, my ministry. Sometimes, slowing down, being still is advantageous – you can hear the voice of God more clearly. I also believe that God allowed me to go this route for I was too busy of a person to find my calling – now I have – and though a difficult subject matter – God gives me what I need to help others. So, no sympathy is needed.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”. (Romans 8:28)

deaf hand blk and white

They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him. Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it” . (Mark 7:32-36)

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
‘You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.

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American Standard Version
“Hear my prayer, O Jehovah, and give ear unto my cry; Hold not thy peace at my tears: For I am a stranger with thee, A sojourner, as all my fathers were.”

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New American Standard Bible (©1995)
“A Psalm of David. To You, O LORD, I call; My rock, do not be deaf to me, For if You are silent to me, I will become like those who go down to the pit.”

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 “Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?”

Psalm 94:9

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Domestic violence increasing & becoming more severe

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DEAF CULTURE

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Defining Deaf Culture

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http://deaf.com/

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It might not be easy to see the abuse at first. Abuse and domestic violence relationships, especially deaf partnered with hearing, are frequently overlooked, discounted, tolerated or accepted because the abuse is not readily apparent to outsiders or the deaf person may not want to appear as a “victim.”

http://dawwwn.homestead.com/files/dv.html

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ABUSED DEAF WOMEN’S ADVOCACY SERVICES

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College Survey Indicates Relationship Violence is Higher in the Deaf Community

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Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault of Deaf Women

(This link has several social agencies listed for help)

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Famous Deaf People

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http://www.ncdhhs.gov/index.htm

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DEAF SERVICES

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http://www.spiritual-side-of-domestic-violence.org

No portion of this web site may be copied, edited, or used in any form without prior permission.

© Spiritual Side of Domestic Violence Org., 2009-2013
All rights reserved.

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4 Comments

Posted by on February 13, 2013 in DISABILITIES AND DOM. VIOLENCE

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 responses to “DOMESTIC VIOLENCE and THE DEAF COMMUNITY

  1. Purposefully Scarred

    February 15, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Reblogged this on Hope for Survivors of Abuse.

     
    • ssofdv

      April 15, 2013 at 10:18 am

      Thank you!

       
  2. Still Scared( but getting angry)

    April 15, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Wonderfully written!

     
    • ssofdv

      April 15, 2013 at 10:19 am

      Thank you!

       

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