Domestic violence is any physical or sexual assault, or other form of abusive behavior from one intimate partner against another, living in marriage or cohabitation. There are numerous reports of victims in domestic violence every day. Many victims live in silence- fearful or shameful of disclosing the abuse in their lives.
Often times when incidents of homicide or abuse are disclosed to the public, neighbors and other people who knew the couple commonly report that the partner who committed the murder or abuse, seemed like a really nice guy. This indicates that unless living with a person, it is difficult to know his or her true character. Many abusers have common traits and are master manipulators.
These are some of the common traits and actions among abusers of domestic violence:
- Forcing sex without consent
- Destroying items with sentimental value
- Having trust issues and bringing accusations of the victim cheating
- Controlling all finances and leaving the victim dependent
- Acting very powerful and dominant when at home, but powerless and meek when around people or authorities of greater power
- Controlling who the victim talks to and meets with
- Calling the victim disrespectful and hurtful names
- Shaming the victim
- Having issues with extreme jealousy
- Making the victim feel guilty
- Using verbally and emotionally, damaging words toward the victim
- Blaming the victim and others
- Threatening the victim with dangerous objects or other weapons
- Physically attacking the victim
There are many difficulties associated with victims leaving their abusers. Although from an objective standpoint, it may be easy to tell victims of domestic violence to leave, it is just not that easy for the victims themselves.
These are some of the reasons why a victim of domestic violence may find it difficult to leave:
- Financial dependence on the abuser
- No support from family and friends
- Still loves the abuser
- Does not trust law enforcement and other systems
- Fear of losing custody of children
- Fear of threats and danger after leaving the abuser
It is important for victims of domestic violence to receive help through resources, such as: mental health services, support groups, shelters, and other areas of support. Working with victims to form a safety plan is essential. This will help them plan the steps of safety ahead of time, in the case of any violent situations that may occur again. They can determine what to do in escalating situations, the nearest door or window they will escape to, where they will go, ways to signal the neighbors that they are in danger (i.e. flickering the lights on and off in the front porch), and other necessary procedures.
Although it may be devastating and seem hopeless for those experiencing domestic violence, there is hope and help for restoration and healing.
If experiencing any domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 911 in any emergency situation.
Mental Health Intern