Though most media attention focuses on breast cancer, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Not only can domestic violence bring about physical injury, psychological trauma, and even death… but its devastating consequences can cross generations and last a lifetime.
Many people have heard the term “domestic violence” but don’t know what it actually means. People’s minds tend to go directly to images of battered and beaten women when thinking of domestic violence. And, indeed, women between the ages of 18 and 24 are most commonly victims of domestic violence, but this is not its only form. Domestic violence – also known as intimate partner violence, dating abuse, or relationship abuse – is any pattern of behaviors used by one partner to establish and maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. These patterns could include, but are not limited to, physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, digital abuse, and stalking.
Domestic violence does not discriminate. Individuals of any age, race, gender, religion, sexuality, socioeconomic status, or education level can be victims. In the United States, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner; this adds up to more than 10 million women and men in a single year. Moreover, one in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
No one starts a new relationship with someone if they know that person is abusive. It can be hard to tell if a relationship will later result in abuse. In fact, many abusers can appear like “ideal” intimate partners in the beginning stages of a relationship. Abusive behaviors don’t always appear overnight but may show themselves as the relationship develops over time.
All abusive relationships are not the same. Nevertheless, there are some signs that one should view as red flags.
Seven common signs that you may be in a relationship with an abusive partner include:
1. Jealousy. An example could be if your partner prevents or discourages you from spending time with those you care about and they care about you like family and friends.
2. Physical punishment or insults, such as hitting you or shaming, demeaning and name-calling.
3. Control; stopping you from making your own decisions.
4. Financial exploitation; taking control over household finances and your money or career aspirations.
5. Intimidation and threats by way of looks or actions that may involve weapons.
6. Sexual intimidation. He or she may pressure you to have sex or perform sexual acts that are uncomfortable for you.
7. Exerting power. He or she threatens to harm or take away your children or pets, as examples.
When you’re in an abusive relationship, it can be challenging to leave. It is essential to have a safety plan before doing so. Safety plans are personalized, practical strategies to improve your safety while actively experiencing abuse, preparing to leave an abusive relationship, or ensuring it once you leave. These plans include critical information specific to your situation and will help prepare you for responding to different scenarios. Preparing a safety plan may seem obvious or irrelevant, but it can be difficult to think clearly and make logical decisions during moments of crisis. Establishing a safety plan ahead of time can help you protect yourself when you need it most.
LOVE DOES NOT HURT. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, reach out for help today!
1. The National Domestic Violence Hotline; 1-800-799-7233)
2. The National Dating Abuse Helpline; 1-866-331-9474
3. The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence; 1-800-537-2238
4. The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence; 1-888-792-2873
5. The National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health; 1-312-726-7020, ext. 2011
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