Domestic violence is typically associated with one spouse physically injuring the other spouse. However, the act of domestic violence can occur between partners, couples, siblings, parent/child and all those in between. It occurs between both men and women and there are no age or race barriers. The perpetrator uses humiliation, fear, physical injury, intimidation, emotional injury and the threat of physical injury in order to control and manipulate their victim. Although domestic violence is typically the result of physical injuries, domestic abuse is also a big part of the violence and usually occurs before, during and after the actual act of violence.
Types of Domestic Violence
Domestic abuse can involve economic, psychological, sexual and/or physical abuse of one’s partner, spouse and/or other family members. When the abuse occurs inside of the household, it is called domestic violence. Some of the types of domestic abuse/violence may include:
- Physical violence involves any type of bodily harm. This means punching, hitting, kicking, biting and/or using weapons, such as a stick, knife or gun to physically hurt the other person.
- Sexual abuse involves the abuser who is physically violent toward their partner/significant other.
- Emotional abuse occurs when the abuser continually tells their victim that they are worthless. The abuser typically berates the victim daily, with comments ranging from “you’re ugly” to “no one will ever want you.” Emotional abuse can often be as painful as physical abuse and many times the victim has been told so many times that no one else will want them, so they stay in the relationship, because they come to believe what their abuser says.
- Financial abuse typically involves one partner withholding or limiting money from the other partner. In this situation the victim comes to rely on their spouse for survival. They slowly begin to feel as though the abuser is a provider and they could not make it without them.
Cause of Domestic Abuse
First and foremost, there is absolutely no excuse for domestic violence in any form. However, there may be causes that encourage the behavior; keep in mind that although the actions are wrong, in many cases the cause may be deeper. A victim of domestic violence gradually begins to believe that they are to blame, they should have done something different and/or the abuser will change. It is never the victim’s fault; regardless of the situation, it is never okay to abuse another person. The hardest thing for many victims to understand is that they are not at fault, you cannot and could not change the actions of the other person. Some of the thoughts of possible reasoning that may cause someone to be violent in a relationship may include:
- One person feels the need to control and dominate the other person
- The abuser may feel inferior to their victims education and/or socioeconomic background
- The abuser feels the need to control others as a means for overcoming their own low self-esteem, anger issues, jealousy and emotions.
- Some traditional beliefs lead men to believe they have the right to control women, because the woman is not equal to a man.
- Alcohol and drug use may contribute to the violent behavior. It is important to note that although substance use may contribute to violence in the relationship, it often is only increasing the violence that has already been occurring and/or will continue to occur.
Domestic violence has an emotional, physical and psychological effect on everyone involved, including the witnesses to the behavior, such as children and/or the spouse of the abuser. A victim of domestic abuse gradually becomes isolated from their family, friends and neighbors, until they eventually lose their network of social interactions and support. A victim of domestic abuse lives in isolation and constant fear in the one place that should provide comfort and safety; their home. Domestic abuse/violence and child abuse often happen in the family. In some situations, the children are the victims and fear telling the other parent, because they are fearful for the non-abusing parent’s safety. Millions of children are witness to acts of violence against their mother/father each year. Domestic violence/abuse often leads to neglect, psychological and/or physical injury to the children. A victim of domestic violence is at a higher risk of committing suicide.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, it is important to remember that you have no control over the behaviors of your partner, but you do have a choice on how to respond. Leaving an abusive relationship to find safety is difficult and once you make the decision to leave, you will need to cope with the physical, emotional and financial issues as well. However, it is essential for your health, your well-being and your life that you get out as soon as possible. Part of safely getting out of this type of situation is understanding the situation you are in. There is a pattern of abuse, which typically starts with behaviors such as threats and name calling and it can quickly escalate to physically violent acts, including murder. There are several resources available for those who are in a domestic abuse/violence situation; it is important for your safety to find help. You can contact the domestic violence hot-line on their website or by telephone at 1-800-799-7233.