Domestic Violence: How To Help Someone You Care About
By: Nora Hood – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
Domestic violence–sometimes called intimate partner violence–is a real issue all over the world. It affects not only the woman who is being abused, but also any children who are witness to the abusive relationship, and it can cause lasting damage to all parties physically, emotionally, and mentally. It can include physical assault, sexual assault, emotional abuse, or controlling behavior, such as not allowing someone to work or see family members, and it affects millions of women in the U.S. alone.
Violence against women is not always something you can see; it often happens behind closed doors, and there may not be any outward signs that anything is wrong. This leads to quite a shock for many loved ones when a relationship dissolves, because they didn’t suspect that anything was amiss.
However, sometimes there are signs, and because it can be so difficult for a victim to break free of their situation, it’s important to do what you can to help. Here are some tips on how to reach out.
Look for the small signs
Many people don’t realize that abuse is happening to someone they love because they miss the little signs. It’s not always visible, either because the abuser is careful about how physical he is or because the victim is careful about not letting anyone see her pain. Some of the small signs of physical violence include the victim isolating herself from friends and family, wearing long sleeves and pants even in warm weather, suddenly wearing heavy makeup or large dark glasses, and experiencing changes in behavior, such as sleeping too much or too little or having difficulties at work or school.
It’s not always physical
Abuse can come in many forms, and it can come from a male or female, a spouse, or a boyfriend/girlfriend. It can happen between married couples and same-sex couples, and it’s not always physical. According to Womenshealth.gov, the list of ways a person can be abusive includes:
- Controls what you’re doing
- Checks your phone, email, or social networks without your permission
- Forces you to have sex when you don’t want to
- Controls your birth control or insists that you get pregnant
- Decides what you wear or eat or how you spend money
- Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school or seeing your family or friends
- Humiliates you on purpose in front of others
- Unfairly accuses you of being unfaithful
- Destroys your things
- Threatens to hurt you, your children, other loved ones, or your pets
- Hurts you physically (e.g., hitting, beating, punching, pushing, kicking), including with a weapon
- Blames you for his or her violent outbursts
- Threatens to hurt herself or himself because of being upset with you
- Threatens to report you to the authorities for imagined crimes
- Says things like, “If I can’t have you, then no one can”
Often, a victim of abuse believes she has been successful in hiding it from the world, and it can come as a shock to find out that someone knows. There are often feelings of shame and humiliation, anger and denial, all of which make reaching out or confronting them tricky. There may even be issues with substance abuse at work, in which case you will want help from a professional. If you suspect a loved one is being abused, sit down and talk with her alone. Ask if she needs help. In many cases, saying the words out loud can “wake up” the victim and allow her to realize that she doesn’t have to stay in her situation.
For more on how domestic violence and substance abuse are related, read on here.
It’s imperative to note that some women feel their lives are in danger–or their children’s lives are–if they leave. In this case, it’s best to get a professional involved–a counselor, an officer of the court, or a member of law enforcement–to help get the ball rolling. Never try to force someone in an abusive relationship to leave abruptly.
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