With everything going on, we haven’t put much emphasis on it, but October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. As the month is coming to a close, let’s take a quick look at what domestic violence is and how it manifests.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence, is abuse that occurs in an intimate relationship. The abuse can be physical, sexual, or even emotional, with the intent to gain control or power over one’s partner through fear, blame, intimidation, humiliation, or manipulation. Sometimes these forms of abuse occur on their own, but often times partners who physically abuse their partners are also engaging in other forms of abuse as well. Regardless, all forms of abuse can lasting damaging effects on the partner being abused.
Often, people tend to assume that domestic violence only occurs between a man and a woman, where the man is the abuser. However, women can also be abusers and DV can occur in non-heterosexual relationships as well. Like sexual assault, domestic violence affects people of any race, class, religion, age, or immigration status, etc.
What does domestic violence look like?
Every relationship and case of domestic violence is unique, but below are some common examples of intimate partner abuse. It’s when one partner:
- Hits, kicks, pushes, or shoves
- Threatens to hurt the other or people they care about
- Constantly criticizes or blames the other for things that go wrong
- Treats the other like a servant
- Get extremely jealous when their partner spends time with others
- Controls decision making, including who their partner is allowed to associate with or where they’re allowed to go
- Humiliates the other partner in front of others
- Calls the other names or crazy; constantly puts the other down
- Denies inflicting any abuse by shifting blame onto other partner
- Forces the other to have sex when they don’t want to.
- Controls the other partner’s access to a job or money
- Destroys the other’s property
- Threatens to take away children or pets
- Threatens to commit suicide if the other partner leaves
Again, this is not a complete list. There are other ways in which abusers try to take control of the relationship (more here).
It is not recommended that partners of an abusive relationship seek couples counseling. Because abusers can be charming and will deny the abuse, this can lead to further abuse in the relationship. Plus, not all couples counselors are trained to recognize manipulative behavior and may side with the aggressor, further worsening the problems.
If you find yourself in a relationship with a partner displaying these behaviors (or know someone who is), understand that they are not okay. Look for ways to leave the relationship as safely as possible. This is usually done through establishing a support network that can guide you through the transition with things like housing, finding a job, or emotional support.
Call the national domestic violence hotline (1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224) to get support and create a safety plan for you or a loved one. Our Support System and Self-care kit are also here for you.