What is Domestic Violence?
You should feel safe and secure in your emotional relationships. Domestic violence destroys that sense of security, and it is not limited to your physical well-being. Joseph Knape, your Domestic Violence Attorney Orlando FL, explains the different types of abusive relationships and the importance of seeking help for your circumstances when you are safely able.
Though the term “domestic violence” typically brings to mind a battered and bruised woman, the true nature of the problem is not always that straightforward.
In fact, abuse in an intimate relationship (like marriage, cohabitation, family, and even dating) can take many different forms:
- Physical aggression, assaults, or threatening language;
- Sexual abuse;
- Controlling behavior, intimidation, stalking, or covert neglect;
- Intentional financial deprivation;
- Spiritual abuse
According to the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, there are three key elements in defining an abusive domestic relationship:
- Victim humiliation
- Physical injury
Recognizing the Signs of Domestic Abuse
All three of these are not required for a relationship to be considered abusive, but all are common elements of many domestic violence situations.
- Recognizing Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is, perhaps, the easiest to recognize; the battered woman remains the most common symbol of domestic violence cases today. The survivor experiences pain, injury, intimidation, and other types of bodily harm. It is not uncommon to see irregular bruising like black eyes or frequent injuries.
Physical abuse can take other forms as well. An abuser can deny the victim of health care, deprive them of sleep, or even force a person to use drugs against their will. Such abuse can also be done by proxy; an abuser can hurt someone else like a child or pet in order to cause psychological harm in others. Ultimately, however, physical abuse most often manifests itself in physical symptoms.
2. Recognizing Emotional/Psychological Abuse
Psychological (or ‘emotional’) abuse pervades the survivor’s mind, causing lasting damage. It may include public or private humiliation, intentionally withholding important information from the victim (such as work related calls), and isolating a person from their friends or family. The abuser will try to make the survivor completely dependent on him or her.
Emotional abuse typically includes verbal abusive behavior that threatens, intimidates, and undermines the survivor’s self-worth, and/or controls his or her freedom. Verbal abuse comes in many forms that include:
- Constant criticism
- Threatening words
- False accusations
Verbal abusers can display a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality switch, jovial and fun one moment, and rage-induced monsters the next. The abuser will act one way in public, and another in private. In public, the abuser might develop cues that will be used to ‘contain’ their significant other, keeping them controlled and manipulated. The abuser might also try to convince the survivor that they are unloved, unwanted, or unnatural, to make them completely dependent.
People who are emotionally abused are likely to feel like they are not in control of their lives, or don’t own themselves. In truth, they may feel their significant other has nearly total control over them. Survivors of emotional abuse frequently suffer from depression, putting them at risk for suicide, eating disorders, or drug/alcohol abuse.
3. Recognizing Sexual Abuse
In a situation of sexual abuse, one partner uses force or coercion to get the other person to unwillingly participate in sexual activity. Sexual abuse includes even attempting to compel an unwilling partner to do something they do not want to do, even if the act is not completed. Despite its history as a condoned practice, marital rape also counts as sexual abuse—one spouse cannot force him or herself on the other. The act of marital rape is now criminalized and repudiated. An expert Domestic Violence Attorney Orlando FL can help diagnose your situation.
4. Recognizing Economic Abuse
When one partner controls the other’s access to economic resources, situations of economic abuse can arise.
An abusive spouse might prevent the other from getting resources, or exploit the resources of another person—for example, by staying in debt, a survivor of domestic abuse might never improve his or her circumstances, and might never recognize the true abusive nature of the situation.
In other instances, an abuser might place the abused on a tightly scrutinized allowance, monitoring how they spend their money and questioning each expense.
5. Seeking Help for Domestic Violence
To recognize an abusive relationship is one thing; to be able to do something about it is entirely another. It is not easy to leave an abusive relationship—an important fact to remember if you are talking to someone who you believe is in one. Be sensitive to their needs and respect their right to act for themselves.
A licensed Domestic Violence Attorney in Orlando FL can you with cases of domestic abuse. Your lawyer can help petition for an order of protection or restraining order on your behalf, and assist with preparing the paperwork to file for divorce. An attorney can even coordinate with the police to make sure that the survivor stays safe while legal work moves forward.
No matter what, if you believe that you are in an abusive situation, take great care and watch out for your safety. Ask for help and find a safer situation as soon as you can.