Domestic Violence AwarenessPrint Page
While October is widely known around the country as Breast Cancer Awareness month, and you’ll see pink everywhere you go, October also highlights another very real issue, Domestic Violence Awareness. Although both causes are serious and important to recognize, it’s important to highlight the lesser publicized one to hopefully assist our coworkers, family members and friends who might be needing resources to get help.
Understanding Domestic Abuse:
Domestic abuse is defined as whenever one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. The abuser uses tactics that are not fair, to manipulate and gain control over you, such as guilt, fear, shame, intimidation, and even violence.
Domestic violence and abuse do not discriminate. Abuse happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. And while women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused—especially verbally and emotionally. The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.
Signs of Physical and Emotional Abuse:
Physical and emotional abuse are both dangerous situations to be in. Although emotional abuse might not put you in actual physical harm, it can damage your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, all while leaving you feeling hopeless and worthless. Emotionally abused people are more likely to participate in risky behaviors (excessive drinking, drug abuse, etc) or commit suicide.
There are many signs to tell if you are in an abusive relationship. The most common are:
- Fear of your partner.
- Feeling like you have to “walk on eggshells” to avoid a blowup.
- Feeling like you can’t do anything right for your partner.
- Believing you deserve to be treated this way or that your partner has good reason to treat you this way.
- Feeling of being emotionally numb or helpless.
- If your partner humiliates you or belittles you.
- If your partner’s actions are too embarrassing to even be seen by your family and friends.
- If your partner blames you for their abusive behavior.
- If your partner has bad or unpredictable behavior.
- If your partner has ever threatened to kill you, harm you, or HAS hurt you physically.
- If your partner threatens you with violence, repercussions (i.e. taking the kids away), or suicide if you were to ever leave them.
- If you are forced to have sex.
- If your partner destroys your belongings.
- If your partner acts excessively jealous or possessive.
- If your partner is constantly checking up on you (going through your phone, internet browser history, constantly calling).
- If your partner limits the amount of money you can have, where you can go, and even limits your phone usage.
- If your partner restricts you from talking to family and friends.
No matter what your partner says and does, NO ONE deserves to be emotionally or physically abused. Even if you did something wrong, your crime does not warrant the punishment of anyone being able to treat you this way. If you find that you can answer yes to any of these signs above, seek help through the domestic abuse hotline (1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)), or a trusted family member, friend, or coworker.
The Cycle of Violence:
Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his or her behavior. In fact, abusive behavior and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you. Domestic abuse tends to follow a common pattern:
A man abuses his partner. After he hits her, he experiences self-directed guilt. He says, “I’m sorry for hurting you.” What he does not say is, “Because I might get caught.” He then rationalizes his behavior by saying that his partner is having an affair with someone. He tells her, “If you weren’t sleeping around and so worthless I wouldn’t have to hit you.” He then acts contrite, reassuring her that he will not hurt her again. She believes him and accepts his apology. He then fantasizes and reflects on past abuse and how he will hurt her again. She, in turn, is fantasizing on the past and how happy they once were. He plans on telling her to go to the store to get some groceries. What he withholds from her is that she has a certain amount of time to do the shopping. When she is held up in traffic and is a few minutes late, he feels completely justified in assaulting her because “You’re having an affair with the store clerk.” He has just set her up.
How to Leave an Abusive Relationship:
If you are being abused and are ready to leave, here are some resources to get help:
- Call the domestic abuse hotline (1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)) for locations of shelters, and important details to help you leave without an incident.
- Call and speak with trusted family, friends, or coworkers who would be willing to help.
If your partner restricts you from communicating with family/friends or monitors your phone calls and texts:
- Call for help from a work phone, public phone, or even a coworker’s phone.
- Use the mail – send a letter to family or friends for help. Ask your manager if you can have envelopes shipped to a work address to your attention (or theirs if it will be hard to get mail to you).
If you are fearful of looking into domestic violence from home due to browser history records:
- Download the “Aspire News” app on your phone. What appears to be an app solely to update you on the news, there is a secret folder where you can view information on domestic abuse without generating any history records or trackable data. In addition, the app has a quick, one-click button to take you straight to a news article should your abuser walk in on you and see your phone. It also has a one-click button to call 911 if you are ever attacked.
What to do if You or Someone You Know is Being Abused:
It’s hard to leave an abusive relationship. Maybe there is fear of violence or retaliation, maybe it’s because the abused person is still in love with their partner, or maybe it’s just because they made a mistake and feel this is the punishment they deserve to right their wrong. It is important for people to know when the relationship has crossed the boundaries of normal to abusive.
As a family member, friend, or coworker, it can be devastating to watch a person you care for suffer through an abusive relationship. It can be terribly hard to determine when to get involved, how to express your concern, and how to help the situation without making it worse for the victim. Domestic abuse is not just the couples’ business, it is everyone’s business. It is important that in these situations, you speak up and get help for the victim. It could potentially save their life.
If you suspect that someone is being abused, do not wait for them to come talk to you. Ask to meet with them in private and let them know your concerns and why you feel that way. Point out things you have noticed that make you worried, and let them know that the conversation is private and will only remain between the two of you. Offer to help them in any way you can and assure them that they will be protected and safe if they were to leave. Never use ultimatums to get them to leave. Below are some common do’s and don’ts about communicating with a victim.
|Ask if something is wrong||
Wait for him or her to come to come to you
Judge or blame
|Listen and validate||Pressure him or her|
|Offer help||Give advice|
|Support his or her decisions||Place conditions on your support|
Understand that these abusers are very good at manipulating their victims. This person might hear what you are saying, but might not be willing to admit that they are being abused. Although it is clear cut for an outsider to see that this person needs to leave, it is not always that easy to convince a victim they need to get out of the relationship. People in abusive relationships can feel defeated, depressed, ashamed, scared, and confused.
If you feel a person is being abused and are unable to communicate with them because they are isolated, or you have communicated with them yet they are too afraid to seek help, your employee-assistance program (EAP) can provide information about what to do if your friend or family member is being abused. You also can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE for information on shelters and other services in your area. In an emergency, call your local police.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1.800.799.7233 (SAFE)
National Dating Abuse Helpline, 1.866.331.9474
National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp,
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1.800.273.8255 (TALK)
Power Control Wheel – to identify the different ways a partner can use power and control to manipulate a relationship