Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, sexual assault and other abusive behaviors as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.
It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.
Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma and in severe cases even death. The devastating physical, emotional and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.
Stages In Domestic Violence
It is not always easy to determine in the early stages of a relationship if one person will become abusive. Domestic violence intensifies over time. Abusers may often seem wonderful and perfect initially but gradually become more aggressive and controlling as the relationship continues. Abuse may begin with behaviors that may easily be dismissed or downplayed such as name- calling, threats, possessiveness or distrust. Abusers may apologize profusely for their actions or try to convince the person they are abusing that they do these things out of love or care. However violence and control always intensifies over time with an abuser despite the apologies.
- Telling the victim that they can never do anything right.
- Showing jealousy of the victim’s family and friends and time spent away.
- Accusing the victim of cheating.
- Keeping or discouraging the victim from seeing friends or family members.
- Embarrassing or shaming the victim with put-downs.
- Controlling every penny spent in the household.
- Taking the victim’s money or refusing to give them money for expenses.
- Looking at or acting in ways that scare the person they are abusing.
- Controlling who the victim see, where they go or what they do.
- Dictating how the victim dresses, wears their hair, etc.
- Stalking the victim or monitoring their victim’s every move (in person or also via the internet and/or other devices such as GPS tracking or the victim’s phone).
- Preventing the victim from making their own decisions.
- Threatening to hurt or kill the victim’s friends, loved ones or pets.
- Intimidating the victim with guns, knives or other weapons.
- Pressuring the victim to have sex when they don’t want to or to do things sexually they are not comfortable with.
- Forcing sex with others.
- Refusing to use protection when having sex or sabotaging birth control.
It is important to note that domestic violence does not always manifest as physical abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as extreme as physical violence. Lack of physical violence does not mean the abuser is any less dangerous to the victim nor does it mean the victim is any less trapped by the abuse.
Additionally domestic violence does not always end when the victim escapes the abuser, tries to terminate the relationship and/or seeks help.
Signs Of An Abusive Relationship
There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner—constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up—chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you via feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.
Physical Abuse And Domestic Abuse
Physical abuse is the use of physical force against someone in a way that injures or endangers that person. Physical assault or battering is a crime whether it occurs inside or outside of the family. The police have the power and authority to protect you from physical attack.
Sexual Abuse Is A Form Of Physical Abuse
Any situation in which you are forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse. Forced sex even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom you also have consensual sex is an act of aggression and violence. Furthermore people whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed.
Emotional Abuse: Bigger Than What You Think
Not all abusive relationships involve physical violence. Just because you’re not battered and bruised doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. Many men and women suffer from emotional abuse which is no less destructive. Unfortunately emotional abuse is often minimized or overlooked—even by the person being abused.
Understanding Emotional Abuse
The aim of emotional abuse is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence leaving you feeling that there’s no way out of the relationship or that without your abusive partner you have nothing. Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming and shaming. Isolation, intimidation and controlling behavior also fall under emotional abuse. Additionally abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence or other repercussions if you don’t do what they want.
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