ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Experts believe that an average of 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner every minute. In Indiana, over 40% of women and 27% of men experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

Domestic violence comes in many forms: physical, verbal, sexual or psychological abuse. The Allen County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said this behavior stems from a desire to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

To bring awareness to this abuse, October has been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness month.

“No matter why it happens, abuse is not okay and it is never justified,” the office said.

Research shows that two out of three victims stay in their relationship because of isolation, financial circumstances and fear. According to Safe Place for Pets, up to 65% of domestic violence victims are unable to escape their abusive relationship because they are concerned about what will happen to their pets if they leave.

Anyone in an abusive relationship with a pet is encouraged to:

The Allen County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said that it is important to check on your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers as well as know the signs of potential abuse. Signs include but are not limited to:

  • Bruises
  • Black eyes
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Abrupt personality changes
  • Loss of self identity
  • Not visiting family and friends
  • Worrying about pleasing their partner

If you know or suspect that someone is a victim of domestic violence, you might feel clueless about how to best help. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said don’t let a fear of saying the wrong thing prevent you from reaching out. Waiting for the perfect words or opportunity could keep you from seizing the opportunity to change a life.

“Leaving can be the most dangerous time for someone in an abusive relationship,” the Allen County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said.

Anyone who feels unsafe is encouraged to find a safe spot and call 911. The office said an officer will meet you at your location.

Contact the Domestic Violence Crisis Line at 260-447-7233 or 800-441-4073 if you have any questions. Both phone lines are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.