DEFINING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic violence can take many different forms. Although physical abuse is the most recognizable, often there are many other types of abuse happening within the relationship, as well. According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.
Abuse within an intimate relationship may manifest as:
- Physical abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Economic abuse
There are many nuances to these types of abuse, and abuse is not limited to these examples. According to Psychology Today, abuse is about a dynamic of extremes, domination and submission. It is about giving and withholding, also in the extreme. Although abuse most commonly manifests as a male abuser and female victim, both the abuser and the abused may be any gender.
RECOGNIZING PHYSICAL ABUSE
Physical abuse is, perhaps, the easiest to recognize. The victim experiences pain, injury, and bodily harm. It is common to see irregular bruising, contusions, and/or frequent injuries.
Physical abuse may take other forms as well. The abuser may deny the victim heath care, deprive the victim of sleep, or even force a victim to use drugs. Abuse may also be done by proxy: an abuser may hurt someone close to the victim such as a child or pet.
RECOGNIZING PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE
Psychological abuse—also referred to as emotional abuse—pervades the victim’s mind, causing lasting damage. This method of abuse may include public and private humiliation, intentionally withholding important information from the victim (such as communications from family, friends, and work), and isolation from the outside world. The abuser’s goal is to make the victim completely dependent on him or her.
Emotional abuse typically includes abusive verbal behavior that undermines the victim’s self-worth, such as constant criticism, name-calling, blame and false accusations, humiliation, and manipulation. Often, the abuser will behave one way in public and another in private. The goal of the abuser is complete control.
People who are emotionally abused are likely to feel they are not in control of themselves or their lives. They may also feel they are unloved or unwanted. Survivors of psychological abuse frequently suffer from depression, putting them at risk for suicide, eating disorders, or drug and alcohol abuse.
RECOGNIZING SEXUAL ABUSE
In the case of sexual abuse, one partner uses force or coercion to get the other partner to unwillingly participate in sexual activity. Even of the act is not completed, attempting to compel a partner to do something he or she does not want to do constitutes sexual abuse.
Despite its history as a condoned practice, marital rape is sexual abuse; one spouse cannot force himself or herself onto the other. The act of marital rape is now criminalized and repudiated.
RECOGNIZING ECONOMIC ABUSE
When one partner controls the other partner’s access to economic resources, a situation of economic abuse may arise. The abuser may prevent the victim’s access to resources or exploit the victim’s financial situation. For example, an abuser may limit the victim’s finances to keep the victim in debt, preventing him or her from improving financial health.
In other circumstances, the abuser may place the victim on a tightly-scrutinized allowance, monitoring how money is spent and questioning each expense. In any case, the goal of the abuser is the victim’s complete dependency
SEEKING HELP FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
To recognize and abusive relationship is one thing; to take action is another. It can be difficult to leave an abusive relationship. This is important to keep in mind if you or someone you know is in such a relationship. You will need assistance, but more importantly, you need sensitivity.
I am a licensed domestic violence attorney, and I can help you with your case of domestic abuse with sensitivity and compassion. I will help you petition for an order of protection or a restraining order and assist you with preparing the paperwork to file for divorce. I can also coordinate with law enforcement to ensure you stay safe while the legal work moves forward.
Call me today at 850-CALL-JOE. I am an experienced and passionate domestic violence attorney who will work hard for you. No case is too small, and your initial consultation is free.
If you are in an abusive situation, ask for help and find a safer situation as soon as possible.