What do you think of when you hear the term “domestic violence”? Many people have a picture, in their mind, of a battered woman with a horribly bruised and swollen face.
Many victims of domestic abuse also have this picture in their head. This picture often makes it hard for them to realize that they are in an abusive and dangerous situation. It is also hard for victims to be taken seriously, when reality doesn’t match what we expect. There may not be bruises and even if there are, they may not be in visible places. People want to see the evidence: the bruises, blood, swollen eyes, etc., but sometimes there isn’t any evidence or outward sign of the abuse.
Have you seen the stories about Hannah Clarke and her 3 children? It is so tragic. In one story I read, Hannah told her friend she was confused, because she didn’t experience the physical abuse in the way she thought abuse happens.
Who Is Abused?
While I am focusing on women in domestic violent situations, it also happens to men. It is even more difficult for them to come out and talk about, because it isn’t understood. I don’t mean to discriminate against them or their pain, this subject is really close to me right now, because we are helping someone, I really love, out of her domestic violent marriage.
Domestic violence happens to rich people, poor people and to all ethnicities. It can happen to anyone. It just takes one person who wants power and control over another person and will do whatever it takes to reach that goal.
Obvious Signs of Abuse
We want to give people the benefit of the doubt and so often times signs are brushed under the carpet. It is their business and between them as a couple. These signs you may not be able to ignore.
- Neglect when it is severe
- Isolation when it is overt
- Physical abuse when blood, bruises, swelling and broken bones can be seen
Less Obvious Signs of Abuse
These signs are much less obvious and may not be seen by co-workers or most family and friends. I am so grateful for people who made comments to my daughter and told her she wasn’t being treated right! It helped her to take a harder look at her situation.
There are so many ways to be covert about these forms of abuse and people don’t want to be in your business.
- Digital Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
Some ways these abuses manifest:
You can find more signs and information about domestic violence at The Center For Family Justice. This is not a complete list. Also, some of these things may not mean anything by themselves. For example: joint social media accounts doesn’t necessarily mean they are being controlled and their privacy is restricted. It may just mean they find it easier and aren’t huge into social media. This is why most of these signs get overlooked, because it can go either way. It may mean nothing or it may mean something is very wrong.
Let’s Start with the most obvious and work our way to what you may never know, because it happens behind closed doors.
Even if you are being physically abused the evidence may not be visible. Bruises may be hidden under clothing and in areas you cannot see.
- Pushing and shoving
- Slapping and punching
- Disrupting your sleep pattern and causing you to feel exhausted
- Threats to hurt, attack or kill
- Keeping you from spending time with family and friends or limiting that time.
- Moving away from family and friends
- Makes it difficult for you to make new friends
- Convinces you to not talk to family and friends, because everything is private
- Can’t go places without him/her often including places like the store
- Refusing you medical attention even when you have the means and insurance to do so
- Spends more time gaming or on phone than with you
- Everyone and everything comes before you do
- Your needs are unimportant
- Their wants are at the top of the list and yours never make the list
- Your needs become your wants
- You grovel for the least amount of attention and then are grateful for the bare minimum.
Most people wake up one day and wonder how this happened? How did I lose control over my life and how did they end up controlling every aspect it?! It often starts subtly.
- What you wear
- Who you talk to
- Where you live
- What you do- hobbies, school, etc.
- Where you work and if you work
- What you eat
- Who does what tasks in the home
- Who makes the decisions and has the power
- Whether you work or not
- If you can go to school or not
- Where you work – you don’t dare change jobs or stay at a job without their approval or they may sabotage you at work
- They control the finances- what bills are paid, when and how much. What gets charged and how much money can be spent on who and when.
- They make the economic decisions- can we afford a car, what kind, where can we afford to live, insurance, phone plan, etc.
- Denying access to a vehicle or at least to one that is reliable
- You can’t make financial goals alone or together
- Withholding money or giving allowances
- Denying access to bank account, records and other important financial information requiring a pin or other security information.
- Running up debt in your name
This is a modern day form abuse that we are seeing more and more of.
- Tracking your phone- insisting you allow them your location at all times
- Checking your phone records and who you talk to
- Viewing your text history
- Never allowing you to see their phone or computer- sign that they are up to no good. They have all access to you, but you can’t see what they are doing.
- Joint social media accounts
- Putting GPS software on your phone, car or other device to track you
- Calling you stupid and other names
- Destroying your property
- Mocking and making fun of you
- Intimidating or humiliating you with remarks or gestures
- Putting you down in front of others
- Yelling in your face
- Interrupting, not listening or responding
- Withholding information
- Saying negative things about your family and friends
- Putting the blame on you, never taking responsibility
Yes, sexual abuse happens in intimate relationships. No still means no and stop means stop! You deserve and have a right to be respected. It doesn’t matter how long you have been together and whether you are married or not.
- Unwanted touching- this may be inappropriate touching in a private or public setting
- Denying contraception or protection
- Forcing or manipulating you into doing things that are painful or degrading during intimacy
- Filming sex acts without your consent
- Making threats or hurting you if you refuse sex
To this list I would also include pornography. It leads to violence and degrades women. As people become more involved in viewing porn their respect for other people deteriorates. People become objects to use and get your next thrill from. Pornography is a serious addiction that destroys relationships.
There isn’t always evidence
Abuse and violence that isn’t visible for others, is NOT evidence that everything is fine!
You can be in a domestic violent relationship without the physical violence. Many people experience many areas of abuse in these relationships. If you are experiencing abuse in just one are, like emotional abuse or economic abuse, this is bad enough and often leads to the other abuses and violence in the relationship.
What do I mean by “bad enough”? Many victims question how bad it really is/was because they didn’t have the bloody swollen face. They pick up the guilt that was put on them, that everything is their fault and if they would only. . . (fill in the blank), then life would be wonderful. This of course is a lie and part of them shifting the blame to you.
What you can do
- Talk about your good relationships and talk well about those you love. It may help someone else to see they are in a bad situation.
- Let them know you love them no matter what. Be a safe person they can talk to or come to. Reserve your judgment.
- Believe people who come out of these relationships. It isn’t two sided. They are victims, but even more importantly they are survivors.
- Encourage them. It means a lot to be told you are brave and courageous for leaving and protecting yourself. It is scary to change your life, especially after the emotional abuse.
- Help them: they may need help with a place to stay, getting back on their feet, finding a new job, babysitting, or they may need a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. There are limitless ways to help someone in this situation, ask them what they need, give suggestions, brainstorm with them. They may have difficulties making decisions, at first and they may be afraid to ask for help. Often they feel like they don’t deserve the help. If you love and care about them, help them.
This link will take you to my daughter’s story. Thank you if you can help her or someone else!