Domestic violence maintains its power through the silence and shame of its victims.
For any victim of intimate partner abuse (whether physical, emotional, sexual or a combination of the three), it is extremely difficult to react appropriately to the abuse that has been perpetrated. Therefore, leaving an abusive relationship is complicated. Leaving is complicated and people should be aware that the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is after she/he leaves the relationship. It would be beneficial for someone wanting to leave an abusive relationship to talk with a domestic violence advocate and develop a safety plan for this time.
There are programs for abusers that seek to change abusive behavior through a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, education and group responsibility. Find out what programs exist in your community and if it is safe to do so, inform your husband/wife/partner that they must participate in one of these programs if they wants to keep the marriage/relationship together. Batterer Intervention Programs have a high recidivism rate but some treatment is better than no treatment.
If you are LDS, the General Authorities have been quite clear that there is no room for any form of abuse in a marriage relationship. For example, the Church Handbook of Instructions specifically states: The Church’s position is that abuse cannot be tolerated in any form. Those who abuse or are cruel to their spouse, children, other family members, or anyone else violate the laws of God and man…Members who have abused others are subject to Church discipline (source: mryanes, a domestic violence expert).
Ten Signs of an Abusive Relationship
Name Calling: Calling someone names is an attempt to lower self-esteem as is the intent of abusive techniques. Verbal remarks such as “idiot,” “ugly,” “stupid” and “crybaby,” among others, hurt as much, if not more, than physical blows. Words wound the heart, not the body.
Spying: Going through a person’s purse, wallet, files, computer hard-drive and cell phone history; sending someone with you as you go out for the evening just to keep an eye on you; and showing up when you are out with your friends–all are examples of spying, jealousy and distrust. When your privacy is continually invaded and your computer habits tracked or phone calls questioned, you are being abused.
Control over your time: Someone requiring you to be home right after work or someone who insists on picking you up at work and dropping you off are not signs of caring, but rather signs of control and abuse. When the abuser wants to know where you are every minute of the day and requires frequent check-ins, it is because they believe their control over you may be threatened.
Prohibiting friendships: Cutting you off from your friends and family is the abuser’s way of cutting you off from your support system. Tearing someone away from support weakens a person.
Controlling Money: Taking your paycheck and not allowing money for necessities is a common way of keeping the victim close to the abuser. If you do not have enough money for food and clothing, you will not have enough money to leave.
Forced Sex: Forcing someone to have sex when they do not want it, even if it’s your spouse, is rape. In most states, spousal rape is a felony. Forced sex is not love and can leave deep emotional scars in addition to physical harm.
Threats: Threats of violence toward you, your children, friends or family members, is abuse. The abuser seeks to intimidate you into submission by playing upon your fear. Fear is a terrific motivator and abusers know it well. It is the most often used weapon in an abusive relationship.
Accusations: Accusing you of flirting, of being interested in someone else, of being out with someone else–frequently these are behaviors projected onto you that the abuser is, or would be willing to engage in, themselves.
Forced Drug Use: Engaging in illegal behavior of drug use is an easy way to force an abuse victim into submission. While under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the victim is not able to fight back or control what it happening. This abuse technique may be followed by forced sex with the abuser or with multiple partners of the abuser’s choosing.
Physical Violence: the most common form of abuse is, of course, physical violence. Every day emergency rooms are filled with victims of domestic violence. ER personnel always hope to finally reach the victims and help them escape their violent situations. One of the classic signs of physical abuse, however, often isn’t visible to anyone but the victim when they are standing naked in front of the mirror. An extremely clever abuser will not strike their victim in an area that is not covered by clothing. If no one ever questions, “where did you get that,” how will anyone ever know the truth of the relationship? No questioning means no support and no one understanding what is happening.
Abusive relationships are more common than you may think. One in four relationships, carries some form of abuse. It takes strength and support from loved ones and friends to stand up for yourself and say “no more.” For further information on abusive relationships and domestic violence, please contact your local domestic violence shelter, or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). This number will lead you to immediate help in your area. Help is available in either English or Spanish and 170 other languages through interpreters (source: LiveStrong).
How You can Help a Victim of Domestic Violence
- Be a listening and non-judgmental ear. You cannot help your loved one if they don’t trust you.
- Get the victim an Order of Protection. The victim’s safety is the #1 priority.
- Document every instance of abuse. Write them down with specific dates. Take pictures of bruises/cuts/injuries.
- Encourage the victim to go to a shelter or other safe place.
- Keep things in perspective. Often the victim has lost their perspective and confidence in themselves.
- Seek the advice of professionals (source: mraynes)
Power and Control Equality Wheel
Although this wheel is from perspective that the victim is female and the abuser is male, abuse can happen in all gendered situations. Male on Female, Female on Male, Male on Male, Female on Female.
To learn about the prevalence of Domestic Violence in Utah, read this study.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers some great resources and ways to take action against Domestic Violence on their website.