What Does Domestic Violence Look Like?
Types of Domestic Abuse:
If you've read my article about how the media portrays domestic violence, you'll know that I don't support how it is mostly depicted as physical or sexual violence. In fact, there are many types of abuse and each of them is damaging and hurtful for the victim. Domestic violence is anything used to control another partner in a relationship. It is the violation of the right we all have to healthy, supportive and safe relationships. In this article, I will explain the different types of domestic violence and what they might look like.
This one is probably the most obvious, as it is the abuse that we most commonly see on tv, movies and in the news. This aggressive behavior can range from bruising to murder. Examples of physical abuse include:
- damaging valuable/personal property or throwing objects at the victim.
- hitting, slapping, punching, or kicking.
- scratching, hair pulling, pushing or grabbing.
- strangulation (It only takes 15 to 20 seconds to lose consciousness and 2 to 4 minutes to die).
- refusing medical attention or hiding medications that belong to the victim.
- pressuring or forcing a partner to use substances such as drugs or alcohol.
- use of weapons, including improvised objects.
An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. Women aren't the only ones being physically abused, men can also be victims of physical violence. The great difference here is that women are far more often seriously hurt or killed than men. Either way, it is unacceptable to physically hurt anyone.
Emotional abuse refers to abuse that affects how we feel. It's not just about how the victim feels at the moment of abuse but also how they feel about themselves and the world around them. This often gets linked to verbal & psychological abuse. So what is the difference? Well, verbal could definitely be considered emotional abuse, as the abuser uses hurtful words to affect how the victim feels about themselves. Mental/psychological abuse affects how our brain develops. (I'll go more in-depth with this later on in this article). Therefore, emotional abuse can include the following tactics:
- name calling, insults, put downs.
- blaming the victim for everything.
- shaming or humiliation.
- socially isolating the victim from family and friends.
- ignoring, or withholding attention.
- intimidation, which can be accomplished through verbal threats or displaying weapons.
- stalking or harassment.
This list isn't extensive. There are many other ways that someone could be emotionally abused.
- On average, almost 500 women are raped or sexually assaulted every day, in the U.S.
- Approximately, two-thirds of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
- Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.
- Victims of sexual abuse are 26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
Any action that impacts a person's ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs. Unfortunately, physical attacks by the abuser is often accompanied by, or culminates in, sexual violence wherein the victim is forced to have sexual intercourse with the abuser or take part in unwanted sexual activity.
- forcing a partner to perform sexual acts against their will, including having sex with other people, imitate pornography.
- pursuing sexual activity when the victim is not fully conscious, is not asked, or is afraid to say no.
- hurting their partner physically during sex or assaulting genitals.
- coercing a partner to have sex without protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
- pressuring their partner to send nude photos or taking nude photos without their consent.
- this can be taken to the other extreme by withholding physical affection.
In this high-tech world where we are constantly connected through technology, it has produced a new tool that abusers can use to exert power & control over their victims. Abusers can use technology to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. This includes:
- hacking into a victim's email or personal accounts.
- using gps to know where a victim is at all times.
- reading all of their text messages or conversations on facebook.
- spreading lies or humiliating the victim through social media.
- recording or filming the victim's conversations with other people without their consent or knowledge.
Technology has become a quick and easy way for stalkers to monitor and harass their
victims. More than one in four stalking victims reports that some form of cyberstalking was used against them, such as email (83 percent of all cyberstalking victims) or instant messaging (35 percent). Electronic monitoring of some kind is used to stalk one in 13 victims.
Financial abuse is not just limiting spending or having control of the family budget. This is about destroying the victim's confidence and ability to earn a living for themselves, making the victim 100% reliant on the abuser for all of their basic needs. This can be accomplished through a variety of ways, including:
- damaging a partner's credit score.
- hiding financial decisions.
- controlling financial assets and effectively putting the victim on an allowance.
- threatening or actually kicking the victim out of the house.
- interfering with the victim getting an education, this can include harassing them while they're trying to study or by refusing to pay for the costs of tuition.
- causing a partner to lose their job through direct & indirect means, such as causing injury that prevents them from being in public or withholding transportation.
Mental & Emotional Abuse in Disney Musical Number
I saved this one for last because I think it is the most insidious and common form of abuse. 95% of men who physically abuse their partners also psychologically abuse them. Psychological abuse interferes with the cognitive development of victims. (i.e., how we learn, remember, solve problems, make associations between things, etc.) There have been so many times, in my own experience, where I have heard victims being called "brain-washed". And it is true, abusers have tactics they use that literally cause the victim to have distorted views about themselves and reality in general. Psychological or mental abuse affects how victims make decisions, because their minds don't follow a path of logic based on evidence they've gathered from their environment. Instead, it follows a distorted path of "logic" that the abuser has ingrained into them, that causes them to ignore reality and to react in abnormal ways. In my opinion, psychological abuse is probably the driving factor for why so many women stay in abusive relationships.
A popular method of mental abuse is called gaslighting. Gaslighting is where false information is given to the victim with the intent of making them doubt their own memory, perception and sanity. According to author and psychoanalyst Robin Stern, Ph.D., the signs of being a victim of gaslighting mental abuse include:
- You are constantly second-guessing yourself.
- You ask yourself, "Am I too sensitive?" a dozen times a day.
- You often feel confused and even crazy at work.
- You're always apologizing to your mother, father, boyfriend,, boss.
- You can't understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren't happier.
- You frequently make excuses for your partner's behavior to friends and family.
- You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don't have to explain or make excuses.
- You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
- You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
- You have trouble making simple decisions.
- You have the sense that you used to be a very different person - more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
- You feel hopeless and joyless.
- You feel as though you can't do anything right.
- You wonder if you are a "good enough" girlfriend/ wife/employee/ friend/daughter.
End the Silence
If you or someone you know is experiencing any type of domestic violence, get help! Don't stay silent, because it will only get worse. You can get help by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or by visiting their website at thehotline.org. Abuse, regardless what type or the severity, is absolutely unacceptable. Even if you don't personally know anyone who is a victim of domestic violence, you can still get involved in raising awareness. Please share this article with your friends and family. Help us educate society and bring an end to domestic violence.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.