Instances of domestic violence and abuse are more common than many people think or like to believe. It doesn’t just involve physical violence but emotional control and abuse which can be just as damaging. It is a difficult subject to broach too, particularly if you suspect that it is going on in your family. It is even harder to get out of without the right support.
Both physical and emotional abuse can leave long lasting scars that can impact on the victim’s wellbeing and their state of mind.
What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse occurs when one member in a personal relationship attempts to control the other person. It can involve violence and threats but can also be emotional, for example, eroding the victim’s self-worth by constantly putting them down.
Domestic abuse happens to men or women but is more common for women. It can also occur in different relationships, not just heterosexual marriages or partnerships. The violence or the emotional abuse don’t generally come through loss of control or anger management issues but a clear and cold decision to use these tools to dominate the other person.
An abuser will find ways to hit and damage a person by punching or hitting where the bruises won’t show and they can often change personality in the blink of an eye when there is an interruption. This is all about control and can develop gradually and cynically over time, leaving the victim dependent and trapped in a cycle of constant abuse.
Domestic abuse doesn’t just involve wives and husbands. Children can be subject to it as well, sometimes from both parents.
The Key Components of Domestic Abuse
Some abusers can be very subtle in their approach, especially those who use emotional control. They will test the water and see how you react and gradually increase the stakes, isolating you and making you a slave in your own home.
The Cycle of Domestic Abuse
Most instances of domestic abuse fall into a cycle of abuse followed by expressed feelings of guilt and excuses (such as being abused in childhood or stress at work). An abuser will then perhaps normalize their behavior, particularly in the beginning. However, the need to dominate will again rise to the surface, perhaps with the abuser fantasizing for a period of time before continuing to abuse.
Next comes the moment when the abuser begins to set up their victim for further abuse and so the cycle continues becoming ever more involved. This can draw the victim into their circle of abuse and leave them trapped and emotionally damaged enough that they can’t find a way out. It becomes habit and even with the help of friends and family can be a difficult cycle to get out of.
Victims themselves will begin to find ways to excuse the behavior of the person who is abusing them. It might be because they are under stress at work. More damaging is the notion that you actually deserve it.
Four Types of Domestic Abuse
The Problem with Domestic Abuse
The major problem with abuse in the home is that it all too often takes place behind closed doors. Abusers are generally very good at keeping these things hidden from those around them and often get help from the victim themselves. There are a number of warning signs that give those outside the abuse cycle a good idea that something is going on. These include:
All these on their own can mean different things. The more symptoms there are, the more people tend to get the feeling that abuse is going on. Even then, we are often guilty of not wanting to interfere and not pushing things further. There’s something sacred about the family unit that we don’t want to disturb however bad it might seem.
Getting Out of Domestic Abuse
This is very difficult for many victims. Stepping away from an abusive partner, especially when it has been going on for years, is not easy. It can be even worse if you have children. There are helplines that you can call if you are the victim of abuse and online resources too. Making that decision to get help is all important and one which many victims struggle with until it’s far too late.
There are shelters in most big towns and cities for people who are the victim of domestic abuse and you don’t normally have to give your name or address to stay in these places They will be able to provide you with the support and advice you need, including how to get a restraining order on your abuser.
Helping Someone Who is a Victim of Domestic Abuse
If you believe that a friend or family member is the victim of domestic abuse, then intervening could well save their life. It can take time for someone to open up to you, especially if they have kept their abuse hidden for a long time. Being direct and saying what your concerns are is important but you should also be non-judgmental. However well you know them, gaining someone’s confidence when they are in an abusive relationship takes time and patience. Make sure that they know you are to help and you can offer a safe haven if they need it.
If you believe that there is an immediate risk to your friend or family member, you have to contact the police and tell them.
Getting Over Domestic Abuse
It’s not just a question of taking the abuser out of the equation. Much of the work for victims begins when they are finally free of their abuser. There will be problems with low self-esteem, building a life and confidence back up, learning to trust other people. Abuse victims often suffer from conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression and it can be a long road to recovery.
Support for Domestic Abuse Victims
As we have begun to realize the extent of abuse in the home, the number of resources and support networks have grown. You no longer need to feel alone if you are a victim and there are plenty of place to reach out to. These provide support and tips on leaving all kinds of abusive relationships and give you a chance to meet and talk to people who have been through similar traumas.
The good news is that, with this support, you can escape from an abusive relationship and you no longer need to be a victim. The support is there, as well, to help you come to terms with what has happened and lead a new, happier life away from the person who is abusing you.