Domestic violence is considered to be a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another and can include physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse.
Why Is It So Hard to Talk about Domestic Violence? Why Is It Necessary?
In my experience domestic violence is not a topic most people are able to talk about. It’s uncomfortable, and the stigma surrounding domestic violence is deep rooted. Yet it’s essential to do so because the issue is so common: one in four women and one in nine men are victims of severe intimate partner violence. The statistics are staggering: On a typical day over 20,000 phone calls are made to domestic violence hotlines. Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes. The chances are high that you or someone you know has experienced some form of intimate partner violence and may be suffering in silence.
A victim’s reasons for not disclosing domestic violence or not leaving their partner can be complex and difficult to understand. Some of the reasons may include fear of the abuser’s response, unsupportive friends or family, financial circumstances, fear of losing custody of children, mixed emotions regarding their relationship with the abuser, religious or cultural beliefs, and lack of knowledge or access to safety and support. There are also societal barriers that prevent victims from leaving, including reinforcement from clergy or secular counselors, lack of support by police officers or law enforcement, and lack of shelters for victims to seek safety.
How You Can Help
So how do you know if you are in an abusive relationship? Abusers can come from all cultures, religions, and economic backgrounds. Anyone can be an abuser, but they often display common characteristics. Abusers often minimize or deny the violence. An abuser may blame their violence on circumstances such as stress at work or drugs or alcohol. An abuser may be kind and charming for long periods of time between episodes of violence. Some common warning signs of an abuser might include jealousy, verbal abuse, possessiveness, controlling behavior, and unpredictability.
If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, know there is nothing you have done to cause this abuse. The anonymous, confidential Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). A trusted therapist is another great way to begin to explore if you or someone you know might be in an abusive relationship to learn about possible next steps.