WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior where one person in a relationship tries to gain power and control over his or her partner through fear and intimidation. This can take the form of threatening or actually using physical violence, or the abuse can be emotional, economic, or sexual.
WHO DOES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AFFECT?
Domestic violence happens to men and women in all racial, economic, and religious groups. The majority of victims are women, but male victims make up a small percentage of abuse cases. Children in homes where spouse abuse occurs are also at risk, both for being abused themselves and for having such problems as anxiety, depression, poor health, low self-esteem, drug abuse, and suicidal behavior.
There are millions of reported cases of domestic violence each year in the United States, and many additional cases go unreported. Approximately one-third of the women murdered in the U.S. are killed by their partners or ex-partners.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE BE PREVENTED?
Domestic violence can flare up with little or no warning and from a spouse who is a loving partner in many other ways. The abuse may start as verbal or psychological, then escalate to physical assault. Therefore, the best time to take preventative steps, such as seeking counseling, is at the first sign of abuse. In order to prevent future abuse, both partners must be committed to making a nonviolent relationship work.
Victims should have a self-protection plan. Police can help when physical violence is occurring or seems imminent, and the courts can provide special orders to keep abusive partners away from their victims. Counselors and support groups are available for both victims and abusers. Local domestic violence shelters offer safe havens for victims and children as well as counseling and education programs.
If you are abused:
Protect yourself and children
Seek help, preferably for both yourself and your partner, but at least for yourself; and
Make the changes necessary for you and your children to live abuse free.
It's never too soon - or too late -
to admit there is a problem and
TO BE ABUSED
While anyone may be a victim of domestic violence, people who are less educated, unemployed, young, and poor may be more likely to have abusive relationships. Other characteristics of people in abusive relationships include low self-esteem, a background in an abusive family, alcohol and drug abuse, passivity in relationships, dependency, and isolation.
Be prepared in advance to protect yourself and your children if a crisis should arise.
Prearrange a safe place to go, such as the home of a friend or relative, a hotel or a shelter.
Have the following items packed and in an accessible place
Cloths (2 - 3 days worth)
Money, checks, and credit cards
Important papers such as birth certificate, court orders, and driver's license
Phone numbers of friends, shelters, and counselors
A PLAN FOR SELF-PROTECTION
If you answer "yes" to one or more of these questions, you may be a victim of abuse.
Are your afraid of doing the "wrong" thing, even if you're not sure what that is?
Does your partner watch your every move?
Do you feel sexually ashamed or humiliated, or are you being sexually hurt?
Does your partner refuse to help when you're sick injured, or pregnant?
Does he or she "put you down" at home or in public?
Do you avoid discussing some subjects because your're afraid your partner's reaction will be violent?
Does your partner place excessive limitations on the things you do, such as the time he or she "allows" for you to do errands or see friends?
Does you partner accuse you of being unfaithful, of being crazy, or being worthless?
Has he or she injured you physically, no matter how slightly?
Do you live in constant fear for yourself or your children?
ARE YOU BEING ABUSED BY YOUR PARTNER?
EARLY WARNING SIGNS OF ABUSERS
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
ABUSE DURING COURTSHIP
Physical abuse during courtship is often a guarantee of abuse later. It is a mistake to marry with the idea "I can change him or her" or "it will stop once we're married."
People who abuse their partners often abuse alcohol or other drugs as well. Many domestic violence incidents involve alcohol and other drugs. (Drug abuse is no excuse to abuse someone else).
BACKGROUND OF FAMILY VIOLENCE
People who grew up in violent homes tend to repeat the pattern. Also, someone who has already been abusive with a previous partner will probably be an abuser again.
MINIMIZING EFFECTS OF VIOLENCE
People who are cruel to animals or insensitive to the pain and suffering of others may be potential abusers of their partners as well as their children.
DENIAL OF PROBLEM
When asked to face the issue of problems in the relationship, potential abusers often deny there is a problem or place all the blame on their partners. They go to great lengths to hide any relationship problems from others and refuse to go for help.
DIFFICULTY HANDLING FRUSTRATION
Potential abusers may overreact to relatively minor things like missing a parking space or being asked to help with chores. People who react to situation by screaming, punching walls, or throwing objects are likely to abuse their partners someday.
Potential abusers may ask excessive questions about whom their partners talked to, accuse them of flirting, and e jealous of any time spent with others, including the children. Jealousy is a sign of insecurity and possessiveness - it has nothing to do with love.
Potential abusers may use "mind games" to gain control over their partners, such as placing unrealistic demands on them, belittling them,and using the line "if you live me, you would..." to get what they want.
NEED TO CONTROL
Potential abusers may make all the decisions about the house, withhold money or access to the car, dictate who the partner's friends can be, and forbid them from going to school, working, or having outside interests.
Potential abusers may treat their partners like sexual objects and become angry if the partners don't do as they want sexually. They may mistrust the opposite sex in general.
THREATS OF VIOLENCE
Any threat of physical violence (such as "I'll get you" or "I'll kill you") is abuse and a likely precursor to physical assault. An abusive person may say "Everybody talks like that", but most people do not threaten their mates.
Potential abusers often say cruel and hurtful things. They may degrade, belittle, curse their partners, and say that the partners would be unable to function without them. Abusers may use verbal abuse in public, as well as in private.