I get asked a lot what domestic violence is, and what kinds of abuse is included in the definition. The simple answer is: If you feel that you were a victim of Domestic Violence, you were. If someone made you fear for your life, made you question reality, forced you to have sex (even if you were married), isolated you from friends or family, gave you a black eye, or threatened to, then you have experienced domestic violence. If you have experienced none of those things mentioned, you might have experienced domestic violence as well.
The thing is, there are so many varieties of domestic abuse that it is hard to include every incident that may be considered domestic violence.
Domestic Violence, also known as Intimate Partner Violence is a pattern of abusive behavior used by one partner with the intention to control and dominate another partner in an intimate relationship.
Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating, it can also happen to people who are separated. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, provoke fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and withholding access to finances. Many of these different forms of domestic violence/abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship.
All forms of abuse come from the abuser’s desire for power and control.
Abuse can be difficult to identify, because an abusive person doesn’t always act this way. Sometimes they may be loving and kind. But if you often feel afraid of upsetting your partner, and change what you do to avoid their anger, then this is a sign that you are being abused.
Warning Signs of Domestic Violence
It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive. People are often on their best behavior at the start of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors usually don’t appear suddenly, but instead develop and intensify as the relationship grows., appearing so slowly, that you don’t even notice they are there.
It can also be hard to identify your relationship as being one with domestic violence because domestic violence does not look the same in every relationship. Every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partner.
Some of the signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:
- Criticizes you, makes you feel that you are not good at anything
- Calls you crazy
- Gas lighting- alters your reality
- Minimizes the abuse that is happening
- Blames the abuse on you. “You made me hit you.” “If you didn’t do ______, I wouldn’t have _____.”
- Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs
- Shows extreme jealousy of time spent with your friends and time spent away
- Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members
- Prevents you from working or attending school
- Controls all of the fiances spent in the household
- Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses
- Looks at you or acts in ways that frighten you
- Controls your every move: who you see, where you go, or what you do
- Prevents you from making your own decisions
- Tells you that you are a bad parent or
- Threatens to harm or take away your children
- Destroys your property
- Threatens to hurt or kill your pets
- Uses weapons to intimidate you
- Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
- Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol
Some of the forms of Domestic Violence include:
Sexual Abuse and Coercion
Financial Abuse and control
The next few blogs will explain a little about each of the above types of abuse. This is just a list, there are other ways that domestic violence could be affecting you, or someone you love. Don’t minimize the situation. If it affects you, leaves you feeling bad about yourself, or unsafe it counts. As mentioned above, every relationship is different, so every form of abuse and how it unfolds is different.
Remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
You deserve to be safe and to be loved.
Reach out for help when you are ready. You are worth it.
If you are ready to ask questions, or get help for you or a loved one, look for your local domestic violence center. If you are unsure where to start, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
***Much of this information was found at: https://www.thehotline.org .They are a wonderful resource and a great place to start to find information and the strength you may be searching for.