Understanding Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence is a pattern of coercive tactics that can include physical, psychological, sexual, economic, and emotional abuse, perpetrated by one person against an intimate partners, with the goal of establishing and maintaining power and control.
Domestic Violence occurs in all kinds of intimate relationships, including married couples, people who are dating, couples who live together, people with children in common, same-sex partners, people who were formerly in a relationship with the person abusing them, and teen dating relationships.
Abusive behaviors are not symptoms that someone is angry or out of control. An abuser makes a choice to exert power and control over their partner. Abusive behaviors include physical, emotional, sexual, social, and financial abuse.
- Occurs in all socio-economic groups, all religious groups, all races, all ethnic groups and within heterosexual, LGBTQIA+ relationships, to people of all ages and physical abilities.
- Includes psychological, verbal or emotional abuse that can be as devastating as the physical violence.
- Something that has happened to people you know; perhaps your neighbor, friend, sister, mother, your co-worker or even yourself.
Physical abuse often begins with less violent assaults such as pushing. As the abuse continues, however, it becomes increasingly violent. Abusers often target areas of the body that are usually covered with clothing because the injuries are less likely to be visible to others. Acts of physical abuse include:
- Throwing objects at the person
- Target hitting
- Sustained beating
- Abuse planned to cause the person to miscarry
- Using weapons
Emotional abuse is a tool used by those who want to make their partners feel scared, crazy, worthless, or responsible for the abuse. The abuser’s goal is control over the partner. Emotional abuse may include:
- Making jokes about their partner
- Criticizing the person’s competence
- Ignoring the person’s feelings
- Withholding affection as a form of punishment
- Blaming the person for all problems
- Yelling at the person
- Humiliating the person in front of others
- Accusing the person of being the abusive partner
- Threatening to take the children away from the person
- Threatening physical violence
- Threatening suicide to punish the person
Social abuse is used to isolate the partner from others in the community. The fewer people the person is connected with, the more control the abuser has over them. Examples of social abuse include:
- Insisting that the couple spend all time together 2
- Discouraging the partner from seeing friends or family
- Forbidding the partner to see friends or family
- Monitoring the partner’s mail or phone calls
- Checking the odometer
- Restricting access to the car or car keys
- Telling others the person is crazy or abusive
Abusers often attempt to establish financial control over victims. Victims who are financially dependent on abusers have fewer resources for escape. Financial abuse includes:
- Making all financial decisions for the household
- Keeping financial secrets
- Monitoring the person’s spending
- Controlling the person’s access to cash
- Controlling the person’s access to checkbook or credit cards
- Refusing to let the person work
- Forcing the person to turn over income to the abuser
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There is help!
Utilize our counseling services if you or someone you know is experiencing or has experienced domestic violence. Our counselors can help your process the situation, make a safety plan, and help you plan to leave the abusive partner.
If you know someone who is being hurt:
- Believe your friend, and keep what they tell you confidential.
- Don’t blame them for the abuse. The abused person is not responsible for being abused and does not deserve to be abused.
- They need to tell their story in their own time and own pace. Take the time to talk privately with your friend or co-worker and ask about suspicious bruises or fights that you know about.
- Help them make safety plans.
- Validate their feelings. Your friend or co-worker may feel hurt, angry, afraid, ashamed and trapped and may also love the abuser.
- Understand they may not be ready to leave, or they may leave and go back several times before they are able to leave for good. Their solutions may not be the same as yours.