By SK Rice
What makes a victim?
Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors where one partner exerts power and control over their intimate partner or a former partner. A key part of this definition is that an abuser needs to control their victim. This may be in a family, job, friendship, or social media setting. Abuse can also be indirect, where an abuser uses friends, family, a victim’s work associates, and social media to abuse their victim.
The education level, race, sexuality, gender, religion, or economic status of the victim does not matter.
An abuser has no boundaries for their abuse.
How do abusers abuse?
Abusers use psychological, physical, sexual, cyber, financial, indirect, and spiritual abuse in order to exert power and control over their victims.
- Psychological Abuse: This is the first and most extensively used tool that abusers wield. They lull their victims into a false sense of security, get their victims to trust and rely on them completely, and then start to insult, isolate, blame, intimidate, stalk, and humiliate their victims in any way possible.
- Physical Abuse: Physical abuse is the least common form of abuse and includes any means of harming a person’s body. It can include slapping, hitting, kicking, punching, or strangling, as well as the use of weapons or damaging personal property.
- Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse is any unwanted sexual contact, but can also include revenge porn or preventing someone from using protection against pregnancy or STIs.
- Cyber Abuse: Cyber abuse is any abuse that uses technologies, like a cell phone, social media, computer, or GPS. It can include opening someone’s email without authorization, being forced to give a password, or harassing, intimidating, manipulating or receive any unwanted communication via internet, or phone.
- Financial Abuse: Financial abuse occurs when one partner has control over another partner’s economic resources. Types of financial abuse can include forced career change, tracking expenses, maxing out credit cards, ruining credit scores, or refusing to give money for food, rent, clothing, or bills.
- Indirect Abuse: Indirect abuse is a type of psychological abuse that does not require the abuser to have direct contact with their victim. The abuser can use friends, family members, colleagues, or even the court systems in order to harm their victim and maintain power and control.
- Spiritual Abuse: Abusers can spiritually abuse, by using God and the scriptures, to manipulate, lie, to gain control of their victim.
Women experience high rates of domestic violence, with women between 18 and 24 years old experiencing the highest rates of domestic violence of any other group. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women have been the victim of some form of physical abuse by an intimate partner and 1 in 4 women have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
These statistics don’t include the women who have been psychologically, financially, or sexually abused by their partners, nor do they include women who have been stalked by an intimate partner.
Men can also be victims of domestic violence. In fact, 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical abuse by an intimate partner.
Transmen and Transwomen
According to Domestic Shelters, transgender individuals are at an increased risk of experiencing domestic violence. In fact, while about 30% of the general population has experienced some form of domestic violence, up to 50% of trans individuals have been abused by an intimate partner. Nineteen percent experienced abuse due to their trans identity.
The vulnerability of trans individuals as a marginalized group makes them particularly susceptible to domestic violence and it makes it even more difficult to find resources that can help them leave their relationship.
It is also important to note that there are other factors that make individuals more prone to experiencing domestic violence, including, but not limited to, race, sexuality, immigration status, education level, income, and age.
However, regardless of these factors, all people can and do experience domestic violence. If you are experiencing any type of abuse at the hands of your partner, know that you are not alone. There are national and community resources available to help give you the tools you need to stay safe or even leave your relationship.
Feel free to call the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence hotline at 855-BTS-1777 to talk to someone who can help.