Domestic abuse is a serious concern across the country. Abuse doesn’t discriminate between age or gender, and it affects more people than you might think. There is no form of abuse worse than another, the vital part is to seek help when you need it.
The Signs Of Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. The aim of an abuser is to control their partner, and there are usually many abusive behaviors they can display without violence, such as emotional abuse and financial control.
Emotional abuse, also verbal abuse, occurs when an abuser belittles you and shows disregard for your feelings and for you as a person. You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells to prevent your partner from getting angry. Your partner could also make you believe that you are to blame for their abusive behavior.
Emotional abusers don’t recognize you as a person, they may often show no regard for your achievements and opinions. Shouting at you, humiliating you, threatening you with violence, and criticizing you are all examples of emotional abuse.
Without external help, it’s easy to feel trapped in this situation. Remember that abuse is never your fault, and you deserve to be treated with respect.
An abuser is going to feel like they need to have complete control over your life. If they’re trying to control where you go or keep you from seeing family or friends, this is a sign that you are not in a healthy relationship. You shouldn’t need to seek permission to see family or friends or to leave your home.
They may also act overly possessive or jealous, accusing you of affairs or of flirting with others. This is a form of emotional abuse as above, they are trying to turn the problem onto you instead of them.
Partners that do not let you see your friends or family do not have your best interests at heart, but if the abuse has taken place you may feel isolated already. You are not alone, and there are always people ready to help you, and a good family member or friend will be ready to support you as you move forward.
Limitations on how you can use your own money constitute financial control. An abusive partner might withhold your cash and cards from you, or strictly regulate how you spend your money, not allowing you to spend your money on essential needs.
Domestic abuse changes to domestic violence if a partner has physically assaulted you or restricted your personal safety. Punching, kicking, hair pulling, and other attacks with weapons are the signs most people recognize, but abusive partners also physically abuse you if they don’t allow you to seek medical care, eat, or sleep. Locking you in or out of the house or leaving you in an unfamiliar place constitutes physical abuse.
If a partner makes sexual advances without your permission, this constitutes rape. Forcing themselves on you and refusing to use agreed-upon contraception methods are forms of sexual abuse. The controlling behavior of the abuser remains, they might make you feel like you owe them sex or make you dress in a certain way. This is not okay, and you deserve the right to make your own decisions about your sexual activity.
How To Look Out For A Friend Or Loved One
Sometimes, it can be hard to spot the signs of domestic abuse in a friend or loved one. The National Domestic Violence Hotline’s statistics show that 1 in 3 adult women (35.6%) and 1 in 4 adult men (28.5%) in the U.S. have reported that they experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner. The likelihood that someone you know is suffering is higher than you think.
Be on the lookout for those around you. Signs that someone is in an abusive relationship can be any of the following:
- Appearing fearful
- Low self-esteem, overly apologetic
- Anxiety and agitation
- Substance dependencies
- Depression and lack of interest in activities
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Having no money on them
- Physical signs of injury
- Wearing clothes not suited to the season in order to hide injuries
- Using more makeup than usual to cover injuries
- They seem isolated and have broken away from friends and family
- Skipping social events, work, or school for no apparent reason
- Personality changes
- They are constantly checking in with their partner
- They mention that their partner has a temper or is jealous and possessive
As a friend or family member, take the time to reach out in a safe environment to make sure that they are safe. Misunderstandings can always be cleared up, but loved ones in abusive relationships should never be ignored. Relate to them that you are there if they need help, and work with them to provide a safe haven or escape route if necessary.
Making Decisions About Your Next Steps
Your continued safety is the most important consideration to keep in mind. Working with a friend or family member, make a plan to escape just in case you need it, even if you aren’t ready to leave yet. This provides an out for when you decide to leave, so you can do it in the best way for your safety.
If you are ever in immediate danger, call 911. The police are there to keep you safe and get you away from an abusive situation. Even if you had an escape plan, you have to put your safety first and make the call for help.
Domestic Violence Help In Broward County
At Fifth Street Counseling Center, we offer same-day appointments. If you are unsure of how to move forward in your situation, speak to one of our counselors and we can help provide you with resources and advice through a dedicated and confidential counseling session.