Anybody, irrespective of their educational, financial or social status can fall victim to domestic abuse. Unfortunately, most abuse victims choose to hide or ignore the issues they face despite the fact that we’re now encouraged to be more open about our personal and social lives than ever before - there’s still an element of social stigma associated with domestic abuse.
Oftentimes, domestic abuse victims will also mistakenly regard the abuse as their fate, or are too worried about potential repercussions to come clean and talk about it.
What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic abuse is not just limited to physical violence. It includes every single abusive and tormenting behavior or action of an abuser, whose sole motive is to control their domestic environment (partner, children, parents, housekeeper, etc.) through acts of physical, mental, or sexual abuse. Domestic violence typically begins with verbal and psychological abuse and then intensifies to include physical violence. Domestic abuse can also cause PTSD and other trauma related issues.
The Effects of Domestic Abuse
Victims of domestic abuse tend to live a life of distress, helplessness, and desolation; living in a constant state of fear due to lost self-esteem and self-worth. The fear, despair, and hopelessness they feel may even lead to suicidal thoughts. While physical injuries are curable and may heal over time, it’s extremely difficult for abuse victims to overcome the mental torture and psychological trauma that they’ve endured.
Identifying a Victim of Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse can’t be addressed if it can’t be identified. No one is immune and abusers don’t discriminate. Victims of domestic violence or abuse will often appear somber or pessimistic, and may even show visible signs of physical abuse. Domestic abuse victims tend to live in fear, keeping their true feelings bottled up to avoid further abuse. Being able to recognize such victims is the first step towards helping them end their suffering or supporting them in their time of need.
Signs That You’re A Victim of Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse or violence typically occurs between partners in a relationship living together. You may be a victim of domestic abuse if your partner:
- Is overly possessive
- Interferes in every aspect of your life
- Tries to control everything you do
- Forces sex without your consent
- Pushes you to take part in activities that don’t interest or annoy you
- Spies on your phone, email, and social media activities
- Humiliates you often and as they please
- Prevents you from meeting new people and friends
- Prevents you from progressing in your career
- Constantly mocks your personal tastes
- Controls your finances
- Constantly patronizes you
- Purposefully hurts you
- Threatens you with consequences if you don’t obey their demands
- Abuses and mocks your friends and other family members
- Blames you for their own personal failures
- Lashes out at you for even the small things
Identifying Signs of Domestic Violence in Others
If someone you know or encounter exhibits one or more of the following psychological signs, then there’s a chance that they may be a victim of domestic violence:
- Irrational fear
- Lack of self-confidence
- Acts timid, weak, or remorseful
- Shows a general lack of interest in the things around them
- Confesses to having suicidal thoughts
- Is unusually reserved or secretive
As we mentioned above, apart from the psychological signs, domestic abuse victims can often be identified through visible marks of violence like bruises or scratches in key areas such as the arms, wrists, face, or lips. When confronted, victims generally won’t be able to give a clear explanation or will try and cover up the true reason behind their injuries. Any unusual clothing or accessories, like a scarf in summer or sunglasses at night, may also indicate an abuse victim’s attempt to cover up or hide their injuries from those around them.
What You Can Do for Domestic Abuse Victims?
If you’re a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence, seek immediate help. The worst thing you can do is hide your circumstances from those that love and care about you. Open up to someone you trust and get in touch with a professional counselor to help guide you through the recovery process. If necessary, take legal action or contact law enforcement. Do whatever you have to do – it’s your right to protect yourself.
Similarly, if you suspect a friend or loved one is being abused, make sure you do what you can to help them get through this tough part of their life. Just because you’re not involved, it doesn’t mean it’s none of your business – consider it your responsibility to help out.
If you or someone you know is currently facing domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) now for immediate assistance and shelter.