According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence [i], nearly 10 million men and women are physically abused by an intimate, domestic partner in the span of one year. That boils down to 20 people per minute. This month is dedicated to National Domestic Violence Awareness and we want to help spread the word on signs you or a loved one may be suffering from abuse, and how to help those who are being abused.
We have all seen the news headlines, Woman killed by husband had been planning to leave him [ii] or, Celebrity accused of assaulting his girlfriend [iii], and it happens all of the time, even when it’s not being reported. Some abuse can be physically violent, but some can be more subtle, either with emotional or psychological abuse. Domestic abuse doesn’t look the same in every relationship, and not all relationships start out with abuse. The Hotline.org defines abuse as a “repetitive pattern of behaviors to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. These are behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. Abuse includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of abuse can be going on at any one time.” [iv]
Here are some of the signs of abuse in a relationship:
- Jealousy: this may begin at the start of a relationship. It could mean that a boyfriend is constantly calling to check on where you are and what you’re doing. It could be a girlfriend accusing you of flirting with another or spending too much time without her. [v]
- Isolation: a partner who tries to isolate you from your friends, family, and coworkers so you have to rely on them. The abusive partner may try to prevent access to a vehicle or from leaving the house. [v]
- A partner who tries to belittle or control you, verbally berating you or judging your actions. [v]
- A partner who has a hot-and-cold personality and may fly off the handle and then become apologetic. [v]
- Talks of punishing or threats of violence. [v]
- Physical harm no matter how mild or “accidental” it may seem [v]
- Economic or Financial intervention: preventing you from holding a job, taking or withholding your money, controlling your finances or restricting you to an allowance. [vi]
The most telling sign is if you fear your partner. If you feel that you are constantly walking on eggshells to avoid upsetting your partner, or if you’re constantly worried that your partner’s demeanor may change at any moment and you’re afraid of what may happen, you may be experiencing abuse. [vi]
So what can you do to help a loved one or to help yourself?
If your loved one is showing signs of being in an abusive relationship, show that you are available to talk, that you love and support them, and you want them to be happy and healthy [vii]. Speaking about domestic violence helps end the stigma surrounding those who may have been abused, and helps spread awareness to those in need. There are organizations where you can volunteer, every town, county, and state have shelter for women and children escaping abuse, and there are communities online devoted to ending domestic abuse. For more information about getting involved, visit the National Network to End Domestic Violence. [vii]
If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, seek help. If you don’t have a trusted family member or friend to turn to, you can call an anonymous helpline. In the U.S, thehotline.org is a website and helpline available 24/7, and a guide to anonymous helplines available worldwide can be found here [vi].
There is hope and there is help. We can break the cycle of domestic abuse and help those who need it. For more information, take a look at some of the resources below, and please share your thoughts with us!