“Domestic Violence is a carefully laid physical, financial and psychological trap.” -Leslie Morgan Steiner
What is Domestic Violence and Abuse?
Generally, when we think of domestic violence or domestic abuse, we think of physical acts. Physical violence may not be the only form of domestic violence. Domestic violence refers to acts of violence (physical, sexual, emotional, economic, and psychological) that occur between people who have or have had, an intimate relationship. It generally includes a pattern of behavior aimed at controlling a partner through fear.
According to a report published jointly by the World Health Organization and several other bodies under the United Nations, 1 in 3 women across the globe experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Men, women, spouses, and even children experience domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is intolerable in any way. It is a crime also, based on our state’s law.
Physical abuse refers to when an abusive partner’s actions result in an intentional bodily injury to the other partner. This is a crime, and the police may be informed for your protection.
Sexual abuse is non-consensual sexual contact (any unwanted sexual contact). Even if you had consenting sexual contact with a partner before removing your permission, any forced sexual contact with that person is considered domestic violence.
Psychological or Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is a deliberate attempt to cause mental distress to the partner. For example, intimidating or harassing your partner, coercing or pressuring them, ridiculing them or treating them like a child, manipulation or isolation from family, friends, or regular activities all result in mental distress and are signs of emotional abuse.
Economic (or Financial) Abuse
Domestic violence laws also include financial abuse as a violent crime. This type of domestic violence occurs when one partner uses finances to gain a sense of power and control over the other partner. Withholding money, controlling household spending, or refusing to include the other partner in financial decisions can be classified as a form of domestic abuse.
But how does domestic abuse manifest in relationships? Let’s take a look at some of the red flags as an example of what we need to watch out for in an abusive relationship.
Signs of an Abusive Relationship
- You avoid indulging in behaviors that may anger your partner, such as meeting your friends and family members regularly or being active on social media.
- Your partner has a tendency to oppose your opinions in most situations.
- You feel the need to check in often with your partner and let them know where you are and who you are with all the time, even when you’re spending time with close family members.
- Your partner hinders meaningful conversations with random accusations against you or changes the topic.
- It is hurtful when your partner makes jokes at your expense while complaining that your sensitivities are too evident.
- Your partner invalidates your emotions or makes it seem like your feelings don’t matter.
- Your partner makes you apologize for things you didn’t do. As a result, you feel arrogant or dumb for no reason.
- Your partner regularly puts words in your mouth or speaks for you without your consent and undermines your self-esteem.
- Your partner often has intense mood swings. Suddenly your partner may seem distant, and in the next moment, they are unavailable, and then they go back to being a caring partner. This can cause a lot of anxiety and a tendency to do anything to please your partner or avoid doing anything that could upset them.
- Your partner puts you down and refuses to acknowledge your achievements. As well as they seem to take pleasure in belittling you and making you feel unworthy.
- Your partner withholds things from you, such as money, affection, or sex.
- There is no longer any mutual sexual desire in your relationship. Physical engagement may not feel safe or comfortable to you. Meanwhile, your partner might coerce you or even force you to engage in unwanted sexual acts.
- Your partner makes out as if everything is always your fault. Even, they make you feel sorry for them, and this may lead to feelings of guilt.
- Your partner has unrealistic expectations or demands. If you are unable to meet their standards, you may have to endure criticism or silent treatment.
- Your partner seems to enjoy causing conflict. They may provoke arguments, have unstable emotions, nitpick at little things or make demeaning comments about you in public.
- Your partner engages in emotional blackmail and manipulation or they use compassion, fear, and other emotions to control the situation or you.
- Your partner acts entitled or superior and speaks in a condescending or sarcastic manner.
- They try to control you by isolating you from loved ones. Also, sometimes you feel they force you to spend all your time and money with them.
Cycle of Abuse
Domestic abuse and domestic violence acts in a relationship seem to emerge in stages, creating a cycle of abuse. Such as there main 4 stages of Abuse include:
External sources of stress may lead to a sense of frustration and loss of control for the abusive partner. This may lead to the partner who is the target of abuse feeling highly anxious and trying their best to not do anything that may upset their partner.
The built-up tension is released towards the partner who is the target of abuse to help the abusive partner feel as if they are in control again. This may be in the form of verbal abuse, manipulation or controlling behaviors, physical and/or sexual acts of violence against the partner, etc.
When the tension has gone, later the abusive partner might be overly concerned, presenting things, and so on to make up for previous wrongs.
During the calm stage, there is an attempt to justify or excuse the abuse by blaming it on external stressors. Also, the abusive partner may show regret for their actions and reassure the partner that things will change for the better. However, this may help persuade the partner who was the target of abuse to forgive and forget what happened.
Be Aware of the Signs of Abuse
If you recognize these warning signs of abuse in a loved one, in this case please take them seriously:
People who are being abused may:
- They seem anxious to please their partner.
- Be easily agreeable to everything the partner says and does.
- Constantly report back to your partner regarding their whereabouts.
- They receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner.
- Mention their partner’s short temper or jealous and possessive behavior.
Warning signs of physical abuse
People being subjected to physical abuse:
- They can maybe suffer injuries repeatedly and justify them by blaming “accidents.”
- I often miss social engagements or other commitments for no apparent reason.
- Prefer to wear long-sleeved or covered clothing to conceal bruises or scars.
Warning signs of isolation
People separated from an abusive relationship may:
- Spend a restricted amount of time with friends and family
- They are alone in public.
- Not have access to funds, means of transport, etc.
Psychological warning signs of abusePeople being abused may:
- Show signs of having very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident.
- Show a shift in personality, such as a normally gregarious person suddenly starting to withdraw and isolate themselves.
- In particular, they feel anxious, depressed, or suicidal.
Accepting Support and Breaking The Cycle
Breaking the cycle of abuse is not an easy task. People who have been emotionally or physically abused are often depressed, drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. However, with adequate support from family, friends, and psychological counselling, people can stand up to abuse and regain control over their lives. Therapy can also help them rebuild healthy relationships with their loved ones and boost their confidence and self-esteem.
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