Domestic Violence Affects Everyone
Know The Facts
In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner. That’s an average of three women every day. Of all the women murdered in the U.S., about one-third were killed by an intimate partner.
One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.1 An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.2 85% of domestic violence victims are women.3 Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew.4 Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.5 Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police
Domestic violence against men: Know the signs Domestic violence against men isn’t always easy to identify, but it can be a serious threat. Know how to recognize if you’re being abused and how to get help. By Mayo Clinic staff Women aren’t the only victims of domestic violence. Understand the signs of domestic violence against men, and know how to get help.
Recognize domestic violence against men
Domestic violence also known as domestic abuse, battering or intimate partner violence occurs between people in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence against men can take many forms, including emotional, sexual and physical abuse and threats of abuse. It can happen in heterosexual or same sex relationships.
It might not be easy to recognize domestic violence against men. Early in the relationship, your partner might seem attentive, generous and protective in ways that later turn out to be controlling and frightening. Initially, the abuse might appear as isolated incidents. Your partner might apologize and promise not to abuse you again.
Domestic violence in later life occurs when older individuals are physically, sexually, or emotionally abused, exploited, or neglected by someone [with whom] they have an ongoing relationship. . . . Abusers intentionally use coercive tactics, such as isolation, threats, intimidation, manipulation, and violence to gain and maintain control over the victim. National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life The problem of abuse in later life occurs in all communities and affects people of all ethnic, cultural, racial, economic, and religious backgrounds. Although most victims are female, older men can be harmed, too. Domestic abuse in later life and elder abuse often go hand in hand, and the consequences on lives are very similar. Elder abuse, broadly speaking, includes physical, emotional, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, self-neglect, and abandonment of older persons terms defined by law in state adult protective services (APS) statutes.
Children and Adolescents
Domestic violence affects children, even if they’re just witnesses. If you have children, remember that exposure to domestic violence puts them at risk of developmental problems, psychiatric disorders, problems at school, aggressive behavior and low self-esteem. You might worry that seeking help could further endanger you and your children, or that it might break up your family. Fathers might fear that abusive partners will try to take their children away from them. However, getting help is the best way to protect your children and yourself.
More than half of the school-age children in domestic violence shelters show clinical levels of anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder (Graham-Bermann, 1994). Without treatment, these children are at significant risk for delinquency, substance abuse, school drop-out, and difficulties in their own relationships.
Over 3 million children are at risk of exposure to parental violence each year (Carlson, 1984). Children from homes where domestic violence occurs are physically or sexually abused and/or seriously neglected at a rate 15 times the national average (McKay, 1994). Approximately, 45% to 70% of battered women in shelters have reported the presence of child abuse in their home (Meichenbaum, 1994). About two-thirds of abused children are being parented by battered women (McKay, 1994). Of the abused children, they are three times more likely to have been abused by their fathers.
Children may exhibit a wide range of reactions to exposure to violence in their home. Younger children (e.g., preschool and kindergarten) oftentimes, do not understand the meaning of the abuse they observe and tend to believe that they “must have done something wrong.” Self-blame can precipitate feelings of guilt, worry, and anxiety. It is important to consider that children, especially younger children, typically do not have the ability to adequately express their feelings verbally. Consequently, the manifestation of these emotions are often behavioral. Children may become withdrawn, non-verbal, and exhibit regressed behaviors such as clinging and whining. Eating and sleeping difficulty, concentration problems, generalized anxiety, and physical complaints (e.g., headaches) are all common.
Some people are cat people. Some people are dog people. Bird, fish, reptile and other animal-type people abound as well. “Fur People” (as pets are known in many homes) have some great assets, just by nature of being our pets. They’re usually home, even in the middle of the night. Substance abuse among the pet population is rare (catnip might be an exception). Unemployment is expected of them, and they love us unconditionally. Animal companions are good for us. Studies show that people with pets have lower blood pressure, live longer lives and suffer from less anxiety.
But for victims of domestic violence, pets can become a barrier to leaving an abusive relationship and can even become a tool of violence for an abusive partner who is willing to injure or kill a pet as a retaliation or as part of a pre-emptive strike designed to gain or maintain control by means of terrorism. The more you or your children are attached to a pet, the more that pet can be seen by an abuser as a means to control you. Pets are also often seen as being in competition with an abusive partner for your attention.
Even if a spouse has never been violent towards YOU, it’s vital that you take even the threat of violence against a pet seriously – not only for the pet’s safety, but for your own as well. Tons of research has been done on the issue of animal abuse and the relation to child abuse and spouse battering and the facts are in: threats or actions against your pet are a very strong indicator that violence is on the way for you or your children.
Of 50 shelters surveyed about women and children escaping from domestic violence, 85% said that women in their shelter talked about pet abuse, 63% of children talked about pet abuse, and 83% said that they had observed the coexistence of domestic violence and pet abuse.
New Survey From National Domestic Violence Hotline Reveals 1 In 4 Domestic Violence Victims Would Not Call The Police For Help
Today, The Hotline is releasing survey results that show a strong disconnect between victims of domestic violence seeking help from law enforcement and the support those authorities are tasked with providing. There are a number of factors that create major obstacles for victims attempting to cope with domestic violence – from distrust of the authorities to fear of punishment from their abusive partner. In order to shed light on these factors, The Hotline conducted a survey via its chat services. A brief overview of the survey’s findings can be seen in the infographic below. These findings will also be presented at the White House Domestic Violence Summit in October, as part of The Hotline’s larger Domestic Violence Awareness Month plans.
“Our objective was to gain insight into why women who experience domestic abuse are reluctant to call the authorities,” said Katie Ray-Jones, CEO, the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “By gathering data and better understanding these insights, our hope is that we can highlight the importance of law enforcement to provide comprehensive training that will focus on treating domestic violence victims and survivors with dignity and respect.”
Am I In An Abusive Relationship?
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of size, gender, or strength, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Emotional abuse is often minimized, yet it can leave deep and lasting scars.
Noticing and acknowledging the warning signs and symptoms of domestic violence and abuse is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, dont hesitate to reach out. There is help available.
Do you: feel afraid of your partner much of the time? Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner? Feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner? Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated? Wonder if you’ are the one who is crazy? Feel emotionally numb or helpless?
Does your partner: humiliate or yell at you? Criticize you and put you down? Treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see? Ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments? Blame you for their own abusive behavior? See you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
Does your partner: have a bad and unpredictable temper? hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you? threaten to take your children away or harm them? threaten to commit suicide if you leave? force you to have sex? destroy your belongings?
Does your partner: act excessively jealous and possessive? control where you go or what you do? keep you from seeing your friends or family? limit your access to money, the phone, or the car? constantly check up on you?
It Is Still Abuse If . . . The incidents of physical abuse seem minor when compared to those you have read about, seen on television or heard other women talk about. There isnt a better or worse form of physical abuse; you can be severely injured as a result of being pushed, for example. The incidents of physical abuse have only occurred one or two times in the relationship. Studies indicate that if your spouse/partner has injured you once, it is likely he will continue to physically assault you.
The physical assaults stopped when you became passive and gave up your right to express yourself as you desire, to move about freely and see others, and to make decisions. It is not a victory if you have to give up your rights as a person and a partner in exchange for not being assaulted!
There has not been any physical violence. Many women are emotionally and verbally assaulted. This can be as equally frightening and is often more confusing to try to understand.
Source: Breaking the Silence: a Handbook for Victims of Violence in Nebraska
The aim of emotional abuse is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence. If you’re the victim of emotional abuse, you may feel that there is no way out of the relationship or that without your abusive partner you have nothing.
Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming. Isolation, intimidation, and controlling behavior also fall under emotional abuse. Additionally, abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence or other repercussions if you dont do what they want.
You may think that physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with scars. But, the scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep. In fact, emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse sometimes even more so.
Economic or financial abuse: A subtle form of emotional abuse. Remember, an abusers goal is to control you, and he or she will frequently use money to do so.
Economic or financial abuse includes: Rigidly controlling your finances. Withholding money or credit cards. Making you account for every penny you spend. Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter). Restricting you to an allowance. Preventing you from working or choosing your own career. Sabotaging your job (making you miss work, calling constantly). Stealing from you or taking your money.
Abusers use a variety of tactics to manipulate you and exert their power: Dominance Abusive individuals need to feel in charge of the relationship. They will make decisions for you and the family, tell you what to do, and expect you to obey without question. Your abuser may treat you like a servant, child, or even as his or her possession. Humiliation An abuser will do everything he or she can to make you feel bad about yourself or defective in some way. After all, if you believe you’re worthless and that no one else will want you, you’re less likely to leave. Insults, name-calling, shaming, and public put-downs are all weapons of abuse designed to erode your self-esteem and make you feel powerless.
Isolation In order to increase your dependence on him or her, an abusive partner will cut you off from the outside world. He or she may keep you from seeing family or friends, or even prevent you from going to work or school. You may have to ask permission to do anything, go anywhere, or see anyone.
Threats Abusers commonly use threats to keep their partners from leaving or to scare them into dropping charges. Your abuser may threaten to hurt or kill you, your children, other family members, or even pets. He or she may also threaten to commit suicide, file false charges against you, or report you to child services. Intimidation Your abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics designed to scare you into submission. Such tactics include making threatening looks or gestures, smashing things in front of you, destroying property, hurting your pets, or putting weapons on display. The clear message is that if you don’t obey, there will be violent consequences. Denial and blame Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable. They will blame their abusive and violent behavior on a bad childhood, a bad day, and even on the victims of their abuse. Your abusive partner may minimize the abuse or deny that it occurred. He or she will commonly shift the responsibility on to you: Somehow, his or her violent and abusive behavior is your fault.
Abusers are able to control their behavior – they do it all the time. Abusers pick and choose whom to abuse. They don’t insult, threaten, or assault everyone in their life who gives them grief. Usually, they save their abuse for the people closest to them, the ones they claim to love. Abusers carefully choose when and where to abuse. They control themselves until no one else is around to see their abusive behavior. They may act like everything is fine in public, but lash out instantly as soon as you’re alone.
Abusers are able to stop their abusive behavior when it benefits them. Most abusers are not out of control. In fact, they’re able to immediately stop their abusive behavior when its to their advantage to do so (for example, when the police show up or their boss calls). Violent abusers usually direct their blows where they wont show. Rather than acting out in a mindless rage, many physically violent abusers carefully aim their kicks and punches where the bruises and marks wont show.
Speak up if you suspect domestic violence or abuse If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating telling yourself that its none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life.
Ask if something is wrong.
Listen and validate.
Support his or her decisions.
Wait for him or her to come to you.
Pressure him or her.
Place conditions on your support.
Adapted from NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence