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Domestic Violence in Unexpected Places

domestic violence in unexpected placed

Could someone millions of people view as a role model be an abuser? Is it possible that the very person who is supposed to be the hero in a victim’s story is the villain in their own relationship? Domestic violence shows up in every unexpected place. From the smiling faces, you idolize on television to the people dressed in uniform who swore to serve and protect-–no one is exempt from DV, regardless of their image or status.

Fitting the Stereotype

In DV cases where the perpetrator doesn’t fit the “typical” abuser stereotype, it is no surprise that they may get more sympathy in the system. After all, “they were a good guy who attended church every Sunday and always donated to school fundraisers.” The sense of expectations not matching reality becomes even more problematic when the abuser also has a significant amount of power via profession, reputation, or money. 

Domestic Violence in the Professional World

According to Forbes, 16% of young boys dream of being a professional athlete when they grow up. In their eyes, the athletes they see on the big screen can do no wrong. However, what they don’t recognize is that domestic abuse is no stranger in the world of professional athletes.

In the NFL

In 2014, NFL star Ray Rice was caught knocking his girlfriend unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator. He was suspended for a measly two games. However, after the release of elevator footage depicting the incident of abuse, public backlash pushed the league to suspend Rice indefinitely and change their domestic abuse policies [1].

A Heavyweight Champion

Famous boxer Mike Tyson describes an act of abuse towards his ex-wife stating, “She really offended me and I went BAM. She flew backwards, hitting every wall in the apartment, That was the best punch I’ve ever thrown in my entire life [2].”

Soccer Star

Olympic soccer player, Hope Solo, was arrested for domestic violence after drunkenly beating her sister and nephew. The case was later dismissed [3]. The list could go on and on. Professional athletes are given a platform that allows them to influence younger generations who idolize them. Unfortunately, many are instead using this power to influence the system in their favor, leading to lighter punishments, lack of accountability, and an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.

Abuse in Professions Meant to Protect

Perhaps even more surprising than DV associated with professional athletes is the prevalence of DV in professions that are meant to protect, such as law enforcement. According to studies, at least 40 percent of law enforcement families experience domestic violence-–talk about expectations not matching up with reality [4] The very people victims of DV expect to call upon to come to their rescue have a good chance of being perpetrators themselves. Less surprising is that abusive members of law enforcement use their power and status to manipulate the victim and the system. In one case, a Florida officer was cleared in the murder of his wife in less than 24 hours, after evidence was ignored and zero interviews were conducted [4]

In Our Military

Much like law enforcement, DV in military families can be both shocking and shielded by status. Kate Ranta, a survivor, reported the abuse to her husband’s commanding officer. It was “handled administratively,” according to them. No further action was taken, allowing her husband to show up at her house and shoot both her and her father in front of their 4-year-old son. Thankfully, they all survived and the husband was convicted of attempted murder in civilian court [5]. The DV case should have been properly handled when Ranta first came forward, instead it was hushed and swept under the rug. They gave her abuser “the benefit of the doubt”. Unfortunately, Ranta is not alone. In 2002, over 18,000 incidents of spousal abuse were reported in the military [6]. Even for their own, an agency that victims should be able to trust as one to serve and protect, falls short. 

Double-Edged Sword

Professional athletes, law enforcement officers, and members of the military share a  reputation as heroes. With the title comes power. And with that power, comes the ability to abuse it. When “heroes” become the perpetrators of abuse, there is a double-edged sword of action without consequence that makes situations like these especially dangerous for victims of DV. There are no stereotypical victims of abuse, and when anyone can fall prey, it makes predators in power even more lethal.

Photo Credit: Anastasiia Arakelian, via Unsplash

Resources

  1. Axon, R. (2019, Sep 20). Ray Rice case prompted NFL changes on domestic violence, but cases continue to test policy. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2019/09/18/nfl-domestic-violence-ray-rice-tyreek-hill-ezekiel-elliott-adrian-peterson/2215187001/
  2. Desert News. (1989, Jun 24). Tyson says he bounced his ex-wife off walls with his best-ever punch. Desert News. https://www.deseret.com/1989/6/24/18812820/tyson-says-he-bounced-ex-wife-off-walls-with-his-best-ever-punch
  3. Young, C. (2014, June 25). The surprising truth about women and violence. Time. https://time.com/2921491/hope-solo-women-violence/
  4. Deane, M. (2016). Black and Blue Bloods : Protecting Police Officer Families from Domestic Violence. 
  5. Taylor, J. (2019, Sep 18). Lawmakers hear emotional stories from ‘forgotten crisis’ of military domestic violence. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2019/09/18/762100271/lawmakers-hear-emotional-stories-from-forgotten-crisis-of-military-domestic-viol
  6. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Domestic violence in the military. http://www.ncdsv.org/images/DOMESTICVIOLENCEINMILITARY.pdf

Sometimes It’s Deeper Than Love: It’s Trauma Bonding

trauma bonding in ocean

 You’ve had enough.

You’ve made plans to leave and have everything ready. 

You know you don’t deserve the maltreatment and abuse that you are subject to day after day at the hands of your intimate partner. 

It’s time to finally flee.

But, he loves you.

And you love him. 

He’s the only person who truly understands and cares for you. 

An indescribable force forbids you from deserting the relationship. 

What is Trauma Bonding?

This “indescribable force” is known as trauma bonding.  Lack of money/resources, nowhere to go, and fear are often brought up when listing reasons why a victim of domestic violence (DV)— aka intimate partner violence (IPV)—refuses to leave or returns to their abuser. Of course, these are all valid reasons why a person may choose to stay in an unhealthy relationship; however, trauma bonding describes a less measurable, less visible reason many victims have a difficult time leaving their abuser. The term trauma bonding is a relatively new concept first used by Patrick Carnes to describe “the misuse of fear, excitement, sexual feelings, and sexual physiology to entangle another person [1].” 

How does it relate to abuse?

Trauma bonding directly ties into the cycle of abuse that is often discussed with IPV. In this cycle, the abused person learns to associate the violent episode with the showering of love and affection that follows. Because the victim feels intense love and care from the abuser during the crisis and honeymoon phase, they often believe that the abuse that follows is due to something they have done, and therefore, something they can change/control. This is especially true for people who were also victims of abuse in their childhood [2]; for them, every form of “love” they have received, has followed abuse. Ultimately, these intense feelings of love and excitement followed by neglect and abuse create a chemical and hormonal bond between the abused and abuser [3]. The “indescribable force” of this bond is often confused with love by the abused person. You are not alone if you feel love for your abuser; however, it is crucial that you can recognize signs of a trauma bond and learn ways to break free from this force.

Signs of a Trauma Bond

  • You realize your partner is mistreating you, but continue to make excuses for them.

In your eyes, every act of abuse is meant with good intentions. They are keeping you from your friends and family because they want to spend all their time with you. Yes, your partner calls you degrading names, but it’s only because they were bullied as a child. You may even blame the abuse on yourself, deciding that you must not have given your partner enough love. 

  • You have a hard time imagining life without your abuser.

The idea of leaving your partner is hard to fathom. You may even want to leave, but feel a sense of panic every time you think of life without your partner. The abuse that your partner disguises as “love” creates intense feelings inside of you, making it extremely difficult to break the bond and end the relationship. 

  • The belief that things will “go back to normal” one day.

The memory of when your partner and you first started dating is still fresh. They used to give you butterflies in your stomach, shower you with gifts, and make you feel like the most important person in the world. You know your partner is capable of being that person again; you just need to figure out a way to “fix” them. According to Psychology Today, a narcissist (the abuser) will first “love bomb” their intimate partner to gain trust. Next, they condition their partner to depend on them for love and affection. Once they feel they have the victim “under their hold”, they will gradually start the cycle of abuse. The more the victim fights for the abuser’s love, the stronger the trauma bond becomes, and the more control the abuser gains.

Breaking Free of the Bond

  • Education. Good news! If you believe you might be experiencing a trauma bond, you are already taking the first steps of breaking free by reading this article. The more you know about the cycle of abuse, narcissistic behavior, and the signs/processes of trauma bonding, the easier it will be to recognize these behaviors in your own relationship. To add, reading about others’ experiences in similar situations can make you feel less alone and more motivated to succeed in breaking the bond.
  • Separate yourself from your abuser. You need to completely cut your abuser off. This, of course, is easier said than done, but once you are able to maintain no contact with the person you are bonded with, the hormones that made you feel “addicted” to your abuser will die down [3].
  • Keep yourself busy. When you are in the no contact phase, your thoughts will likely be consumed by your abuser. A good way to fight these thoughts is to stay focused on other things—catch up with old friends, start going to counseling, join a club, volunteer. 

The important thing to remember if you think you may be stuck in a trauma bond with an abusive partner is that you are not alone. It is justifiable that you have feelings of love for someone with whom you have shared intimate and emotional moments, especially when the relationship started with a showering of affection. However, if while reading this article you were reminded of your own relationship, it is time to focus on breaking free of the bond. 

Photo Credit: Marcis Berzins, via Unsplash

References

[1] Samsel, M. (2018). Trauma bonding. Abuse and relationships. https://www.abuseandrelationships.org/Content/Survivors/trauma_bonding.html

[2] Carbone, N. (2019, August 8). How to recognize the signs of trauma bonding. Pysch Central. https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-recognize-the-signs-of-trauma-bonding/

[3] Leigh, H. (2019, Nov 22). Recognizing and breaking a trauma bond. CPTSD Foundation. https://cptsdfoundation.org/2019/11/22/recognizing-and-breaking-a-trauma-bond/

[4] Greenberg, E. (2018, Jan 21). Why is it so hard to leave the narcissist in your life? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understanding-narcissism/201801/why-is-it-so-hard-leave-the-narcissist-in-your-life

Holiday Help for Victims of Domestic Violence

holiday

For most of us, the holiday season is a promise of warmth, kindness, and sharing happy memories and traditions with those we love most.

 

But for victims of domestic violence, unfortunately, these months can be wrought with terror and hardship. The holiday season often means more chances to drink alcohol (a well-researched commonality in many intimate partner violence situations) and increased stress because of financial and familial obligations. Abusers can become more brutal during the holiday season; and episodes of violence and coercion often become more frequent. Coupled with the isolation and stresses brought on our world due to the pandemic, this is a recipe for disaster.

 

Studies have shown that reports of domestic violence actually decrease during the holiday season, and many experts suspect that victims choose not to report during this time for fear of “ruining” the holidays. This belief, however, is founded in the lens that the abuser has enforced upon the victim: that somehow the victim is responsible for the violence that has been inflicted upon them. This is simply not true, and the holiday season presents a unique opportunity for family and friends to spot domestic violence and act.

 

Signs There Might Be Domestic Violence or Abuse

If you spot one or more of the following behaviors in a friend or family member, there may be a domestic violence situation or an unhealthy relationship in their life. It’s important to think about these behaviors in the context of your loved one’s life.

 

Sudden withdrawal from family and friends

 

Is it a tradition for everyone in the family to get together for an ugly sweater party? That 

friend who was planning to come–did she have to suddenly cancel just an hour before 

the get-together? Think about it: is this part of a larger or recent pattern of behavior?

 

Abusers often seek to control their victims by cutting them off from family and friends. 

Does your friend suddenly seem reluctant to get together, or do they not enjoy activities 

they used to? This could be a warning sign of a bigger problem. Oftentimes, the coercion isn’t as explicit as forbidding the victim from seeing someone. Instead, abusers may accuse their victims of not spending enough time with them or insinuating that they don’t like one particular individual or another.

 

Unexplained or suspicious injuries

 

A bruise on the arm, marks on the throat–these may be innocent injuries, but they also 

could be evidence of domestic violence in your loved one’s life. If you see injuries, ask 

about them. If your friend or family member seems uncomfortable answering, that may 

be a red flag. Think about any other injuries he or she may have had, and whether those seemed suspicious too.

 

Possessiveness by their partner

 

Does your friend seem overly anxious about upsetting their partner? Is your friend 

constantly checking their phone? Is their partner demanding to know where they are at 

all times and accusing your friend of cheating? These tactics are methods of control — 

and are very common in unhealthy relationships and domestic violence situations. 

Another common tactic to exert control over a significant other is through public 

humiliation, whether overt (demeaning the individual in front of others explicitly) or 

through more subtle methods (like “joking”).

 

Financial control by their partner

 

If your loved one lacks access to financial resources they should otherwise have, they

may be in a dangerous situation. Abusers know that by restricting their victim’s cash, 

they can effectively control them and limit their ability to be independent. Financial 

insecurity occurs in almost every domestic violence relationship, and is the number one 

reason why victims struggle to leave their abuser. 

 

How Family and Friends Can Help

The holidays remind all of us the importance of family and friendship. If you suspect someone you love is in an unhealthy relationship, read below for ways you can help.

 

Ask questions, listen and have empathy

 

Try asking questions. Don’t assume too much, and definitely don’t insert judgement. You want your friend to feel like they can trust you. “Hey, I noticed you have been a little 

distant lately. Is everything okay?” or “How’s everything going with (insert partner’s 

name)?” are great ways to start. Avoid offering advice, unless your friend asks for it. 

Instead listen and offer empathy. It may be hard to understand why your loved one is 

tolerating abuse, but remember that your friend is a victim, and has likely been deeply 

manipulated.

 

Offer assistance

 

If your loved one confirms that abuse is occuring in their relationship, they may need your help. It’s important to help in ways that keep your loved one safe. You need to also consider your own safety as well when offering assistance. Do not assert yourself into an unsafe situation to protect the victim.

 

A safe way to help a loved one is to connect them with domestic violence support resources. You can also help the victim put together a plan if they decide to leave their abuser. Plan which shelter your friend and their children (if they have any) will go to. Help them pack a bag with important documents, cash, and essentials to make it easier for them to leave in a hurry.

 

Contact a Domestic Violence Hotline

 

Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit its 

website at thehotline.org to get connected to local, relevant resources, including 

shelters/safe houses. 

 

You can also contact Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence’s Hotline 

855-BTS-1777 from 8am-5pm (Pacific Standard Time) 7 days a week to seek 

resources or information and get support.

 

Contact authorities

 

If your loved one is in immediate, life-threatening danger, it is necessary to contact local law enforcement. The victim may object, and may even beg you not to, but if it means potentially saving their life and their children’s lives it is worth it.





If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.

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Share Your Story

Sharing our stories can be incredibly empowering while also helping others connect with survivors who have similar experiences. If you are inspired to share your story with us, submit here. You can choose to remain anonymous.

You can also donate to BTSADV here.

Photo Credit: Caroline Hernandez, via Unsplash




The Importance of Breaking The Silence Against Domestic Violence

The estimated annual number of domestic violence incidents in the U.S. far surpasses the number of reported cases each year. It is estimated that more than ten million adults experience domestic violence in the U.S. annually. Yet, only between 960,000 and 3,000,000 incidents are reported each year Reporting on a domestic violence incident or breaking the silence is likely to precipitate a series of events and reactions that current victims might not be prepared to deal with.

Consequences of Breaking The Silence

Speaking out may cause the abuser to become more violent and even lethal if they perceive an upcoming break-up. If the abuser is the main income-earner, it might trigger a separation. This could deprive the victim of financial support and confronts them with single-parenthood challenges. 

Personal Challenges As A Survivor

Breaking the silence presents survivors with their own challenges. There may be a fear of other people’s negative judgment or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Survivors can emotional distress of dealing with painful memories. There may be a desire to protect the abuser. These challenges can stop survivors from sharing their own experiences with domestic violence. 

Challenges As A Witness

Reporting on a domestic violence incident can be challenging for witnesses of domestic violence as well. A recent study of intimate partner homicides found that 20% of domestic-violence-related homicides were not victims. Rather, it was family members, friends, neighbors, people who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders. Journalists who write pieces on domestic violence cases receive threats and angry calls from abusers and their families.

Consequences of Remaining Silent

Speaking out about and against domestic violence is a challenging path for anyone who chooses to do so. However, the consequences of remaining silent are arguably even more dire and simply cannot be tolerated. In the U.S., 1 in 2 female and 1 in 13 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners. 65% of all murder-suicides are perpetrated by intimate partners. Intimate partner femicide has increased in recent years, due to an increase in femicide committed with a firearm. Additionally, 1 in 10 women and 1 in 50 men have experienced stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 12 men have experienced contact sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Between 21-60% of victims of intimate partner violence lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse. Finally, intimate partner victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.

Break The Silence Becomes Life Or Death

What is at stake with breaking the silence against domestic violence, then, is life and death. Our voice has the power to save lives, end ongoing, long-lasting cycles of family abuse, stop intimate partner stalking. We can reduce the prevalence of sexual assault in and outside intimate relationships. Our voice can help victims maintain or regain their job and financial independence. We are able to improve victims’ mental health and alleviate cases of PTSD by speaking up about domestic violence. Using our voice, we can protect children from aggression and traumatic events that can haunt them into adulthood.

The sheer prevalence of domestic violence across the globe may make us feel small and unable to contribute to its eradication. However, breaking the silence as a solution to IPV is neither a single act nor a one-person job; it consists of a series of actions that complement and build off of each other.

Where Does Break The Silence Start

It starts with education. What are the red-flags in abusive relationships, and how to spot and avoid them? What is a strong, loving relationship? Why do abusers engage in violent actions, and what can social institutions do to stop them? What are the dynamics of abusive relationships, and why do some victims stay? How should victims, survivors, bystanders, governments act in response to domestic violence? Many genuinely do not know the answers to these questions or haven’t pondered them deeply enough. How could they, when schools, family and acquaintances, and society at large, haven’t properly informed them about IPV?

Survivors who share their personal stories effectively become public educators, shedding the much-needed light on IPV for those who want to help but just don’t know how or why also inspiring current victims to take action and begin their healing process. Researchers who publish reports on the effects of government policies and interventions on domestic violence refine our pool of knowledge, and we, the readers who seek out reliable information on IPV, help establish a more educated and aware society.

Breaking the silence equips us with the knowledge required to take informed actions against domestic violence. These may take on any shape and form, and no initiative is too small. 

Educate Your Community

You may use your knowledge on IPV to teach teenagers about domestic violence and healthy relationships at your local schools, or you may post articles online or hand out fliers with statistics and insights on domestic violence.

So, now your local teenagers are informed about IPV, but law enforcement might not have the human and financial resources to properly detect every domestic violence incident in their jurisdiction. By reporting incidents you help them perform their job better. Once victims escape abusers, their domestic violence situation is dealt with according to a specific set of laws that aren’t always victim-friendly or informed. So, you may protest or lobby for legislation that properly protects victims and for institutions that take domestic violence seriously.

Start The Conversation

What about deep-rooted cultures of victim-blaming and privilege that allow abusers to continue inflicting harm on others? Breaking the silence starts regional and national conversations on ending these maladaptive cultural habits and replacing them with healthier, more inclusive ones.

Volunteer Your Time

You may want to lend out victims a helping hand directly and volunteer with a domestic violence hotline or a victim shelter. Shelters for domestic violence victims are usually under-funded, so you may, alternatively, want to collect funding yourself or pressure local institutions to make donations. Of course, those funds are only made available by those who believe in eradicating domestic violence, that is, those who are educated on the issue. This brings us back to the relevance of breaking the silence on domestic violence by sharing personal stories, statistics, reports, thoughts, and any insight.

You, along with your team of helpers, are a crucial part of this breaking-the-silence-chain that victims and society at large rely on for a future where no person is subject to abuse from the people closest to them. Whether it’s one-hour taking calls with a hotline, one fund-raiser, one post, one article–whatever you feel capable of doing, it matters. Every piece adds up and contributes to breaking the silence and saving lives.

Photo Credit: Michael Dam, via Unsplash

The Truth About Domestic Violence

truth about domestic violence woman's eyes

In the last 60 seconds, approximately 20 people were physically abused by an intimate partner¹. It’s important we take the time to acknowledge the millions of people each year who are victims of intimate partner violence (IPV). This type of violence does not discriminate based on age, ethnicity, economic status, gender, country, or any other reason. Anyone can be a victim, and anyone can be an abuser. To honor those who are affected by IPV, take the time to educate yourself on the truth about domestic violence. 

General Facts About Domestic Violence

  • IPV affects over 12 million people each year².
  • Almost all people in the US have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner at some point in their life².
  • From 1994 to 2010, 4 out of 5 victims of IPV were women².
  • IPV makes up about 15% of violent crimes¹
  • About 70% of murder-suicides involve an intimate partner².
  • On average, 20,000 calls are made to domestic violence hotlines in the US².
  • Over 3 women per day are killed by their husband/boyfriend each day.
  • Risk factors for IPV victimization include being poor, less educated, young adult/teenager, female, living in an impoverished neighborhood, and alcohol or drug dependency
  • Risk factors for perpetrating abusive behaviors are low income and/or academic achievement, young age, prior history of abuse either as a perpetrator, victim, or bystander, a desire for power/control, alcohol/drug use.

Domestic Violence by Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Age

  • More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some kind of PVV in their lifetime in the US²
  • About 15% of women and 4% of men have been injured as a result of IPV in the US².
  • Women between the ages of 18-24 and 25-34 have the highest rate of IPV victimization²
  • Almost 10% of high schoolers report being intentionally, physically hurt by their intimate partner³.
  • 15-40% of youth report being the perpetrators of some kind of physical violence towards their intimate partner³
  • Over 40% of lesbians and 60% of bisexual women have been victims of IPV during thier lifetime.
  • 26 percent of gay men and about 40 percent of bisexual men have been victims of IPV in their lifetime.

Global IPV Statistics

  • About 87,000 women worldwide were intentionally killed in 2017–about a third of them were killed by their intimate partner.
  • Globally, 35-70% of women have experienced IPV throughout their lifetimes.
  • Countries with unequal gender norms tend to have higher rates of IPV.
  • In Sudan, 34% of women believe a husband is justified in hitting their wife.
  • Marital rape is legal in 10 countries.
  • IPV affects job stability, making it more likely for a victim to lose their job.

IPV by Socioeconomic Status

  • Low level of education is a risk factor of both IPV perpetration and victimization.
  • 17% of cities attribute DV as the most significant cause of homelessness.
  • IPV affects job stability, making it more likely for a victim to lose their job.
  • Low socioeconomic status is often considered a risk factor for IPV/DV, but any ¹⁰.

IPV Policies

  • 144 countries have passed laws on domestic violence
  • Data on IPV for the years 2005-2017 is available in 106 countries.
  • Evidence shows that advocacy, counseling on empowerment, and home visits are effective in reducing/preventing IPV.

October is a month for raising awareness and education about domestic violence. However, it is clear to see that this is a public health issue. We should push domestic violence into the “limelight” every day of every month–not just one. Policies of prevention and response should always be at the forefront of conversation. This is especially true in conversations between law enforcement, public health and government officials, and anyone else affected by this type of violence. If you or someone you know is a victim of DV, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 for support. 

Here is a list of resources for further statistics or help for victims of IPV/DV that is provided by the American Psychology Association:

Provides resources for deaf/blind victims of DV, sexual assault and stalking.

Assists in finding psychologists in your local area.

A collection of resources and information on domestic violence, sexual assault, and other related topics.

Works to promote women of color advocates.


SIGN THE BTSADV PETITION

References:

¹https://ncadv.org/STATISTICS.

²https://www.thehotline.org/stakeholders/domestic-violence-statistics/

³https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/datingmatters_flyer_2012-a.pdf

⁴https://ncadv.org/blog/posts/domestic-violence-and-the-lgbtq-community

⁵https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures#:~:text=It%20is%20estimated%20that%20of,their%20own%20family%20every%20day.

⁶https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women

⁷https://data.unicef.org/resources/fgm-country-profiles/

⁸https://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/2076388/nine-countries-rapists-go-free-if-they-marry-their-victims-how-bad-laws

⁹https://www.apa.org/pi/ses/resources/publications/violence

¹⁰https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5801611/

What Is Domestic Violence?

what is domestic violence

What comes to mind when you hear the words “domestic violence”? Many people visualize images of women with black eyes and bloody noses with a boyfriend/husband as the perpetrator. However, this stereotype is not always a reality. Domestic violence can occur in any type of relationship regardless of age, sexual orientation, or economic status. Even the strongest of women and men can fall victim, and even the seemingly “friendly” person, of any gender, can be a perpetrator. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time to bring awareness to the many different situations and types of domestic abuse. 

What is Domestic Violence?

According to thehotline.org, domestic violence (DV) is a “pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.” DV, often referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV) or relationship/dating violence, comes in many different forms, including:

  • Physical–the use or threat of physical force with the intent to cause harm. This can include shoving, strangling, grabbing, or throwing objects at the victim.
  • Emotional/Verbal–using words, or lack of words, to purposely cause harm to the partner. This includes things like name-calling, humiliation, the “silent treatment,” and gaslighting.
  • Sexual–any kind of unwanted sexual behavior. An example would be performing sexual intercourse with the partner without consent. 
  • Other control tactics–anything else that the perpetrator does to manipulate and control their partner. This can be anything from withholding money from the victim or having complete
  • control over how the money is spent to withholding sleep from the victim.

Who Are the Victims of DV?

There is no “victim profile” for domestic violence; anyone can be a victim. This is why it is extremely important to understand the warning signs that you or someone you know may be falling victim to this type of abuse. Here are some warning signs that The Guide tells you to watch for in abusive relationships: 

What is domestic violence in your own relationship?

Do you…

  • Often feel afraid of your partner?
  • Feel your partner gets angry easily and avoid topics that cause them anger?
  • Believe that you may be crazy or deserve to be mistreated?
  • Feel like you can never please your partner?

Does your partner….

  • Humiliate, put you down, or yell at you?
  • Ignore you or make you feel worthless/less than?
  • Blame you for their outbursts and temper?
  • Physically harm you or threaten to?
  • Threaten to hurt themselves if you leave?
  • Destroy, control, or withhold your money or belongings?
  • Exhibit jealousy or keep you from seeing family/friends?
  • Force or use threats to convince you to have sex?

What is domestic violence in others’ relationships?

Does the potential victim:

  • Seem afraid or anxious around their partner, constantly trying to please them?
  • Check-in with their partner more than would seem normal?
  • Discuss their partner’s jealousy, temper, or controlling behaviors?
  • Receive harassing phone calls or text messages from their partner?
  • Have frequent injuries with no specific cause?
  • Often miss events or work at the last minute?
  • Wear clothes that may cover bruises or marks?
  • Often only do things with their partner?
  • Have low self-esteem, depression, or major personality changes?

Answering yes to some or many of these questions may indicate that you or the person you know is in an abusive relationship. 

Effects of Domestic Violence

The World Health Organization (WHO) published a report highlighting the many dangerous effects of DV throughout the world. In a physically abusive relationship, of course, there are the more obvious effects, such as bruises, lacerations, and fractures. However, many victims of abuse, physical or not, carry the less visible scars of the relationship for the rest of their life. This includes physical symptoms, such as chronic illness and stress-related diseases like IBS. In fact, a history of abuse is a risk factor for many physical diseases and illnesses. 

While it is easy to view the physical effects of DV as the most serious because they are more visible and concrete, the mental effects of trauma can be just as detrimental. The WHO reported that anxiety, phobias, depression, thoughts of suicide, and attempted suicide were significantly higher in victims of DV. 

Unfortunately, death is also an effect of DV. WHO found that 40-70% of female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partner. Additionally, victims are more likely to commit suicide or contract HIV/AIDS.

What Can You Do To Help? 

By reading this article, you are already taking the first step towards preventing and responding to DV–you are becoming more aware and educated on the issue. The more knowledgeable you are about the warning signs and effects of DV, the more likely you will be able to notice these red flags in your own or others’ relationships. 

If you suspect a friend may be in an abusive relationship, it is important to have a conversation with them at a time and in a place where they can feel calm and safe. Let victims know they are supported, believed, and worthy of being treated well and receiving help. It may be beneficial to help the victim create a safety plan for when violence occurs; this can include things like a safe place to retreat to, code words for family/friends, and a stash of cash and important documents. Contacting a local domestic violence shelter can be a helpful first step. As much as you may want to help, it is important that you do not overstep, it is ultimately up to the victim when they are ready to leave their abuser. However, if the victim is in immediate danger, or the situation involves children, call the police. 

If you believe you are in an abusive relationship, first of all, know that it is not your fault. No one deserves abuse or to feel unsafe in a relationship. Secondly, don’t be afraid to talk to a safe loved one about your situation–they will likely be able to offer support, without judgment. You can also talk to your doctor, a social worker, the police, or a domestic abuse shelter in your area for help. Another option for support and information is The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Photo by: Sydney Sims Unsplash

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