Domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence, is violence found in the home or against a dating partner. It can happen in any relationship, any ethnic group, any neighborhood, any religious belief system, any sexual orientation, any economic level, and at any age.
There are many myths surrounding domestic violence. One of the most common beliefs is that the abuser has an anger problem or that the person being abused somehow caused the violence to happen. These beliefs are false.
The first thing to know about domestic violence is that most abusers use anger to control their partners and to gain obedience. Domestic violence is all about control, and the perpetrator knows exactly what he or she is doing. Abusers use physical force, shame, guilt, intimidation, threats, and other negative behaviors to gain power over their victims.
Threats like “You know what happens if you make me mad” are common, simultaneously promising violence and placing blame on the victim. Often, abusers only use threats in private, while presenting a different face to the outside world. This can isolate survivors, and make it more difficult for them to seek help.
The seriousness of domestic violence is often diminished by arguments suggesting that the victim “had it coming,” or did something to trigger the abuse, but victims are never to blame. In fact, most victims do everything in their power avoid upsetting an abuser, but ultimately the abuser’s behavior is beyond the victim’s control. Victims are often falsely blamed by the abuser anyway, creating guilt, which is another method of control by the abuser. In reality, only the abuser is responsible for their behavior, for making the choice to abuse their partner, and it almost always get worse as time goes on.
Most survivors of domestic violence do eventually escape the harmful relationship, but it takes time and support. REACH is here to offer advocacy, information, and support during the process. Our services are 100% confidential.
Types of Domestic Violence
There are multiple types of abuse. You may be experiencing one, or more likely, many types of abuse.
- Physical: There are many types of physical violence, such as hitting, shoving, pushing, kicking, slapping, arm twisting, throwing objects, shooting, stabbing, biting, hair pulling, forcing alcohol and drugs on someone, and withholding necessary items (wheelchairs, medications, etc.) that could result in sickness, pain or death. Physical assault is a crime and against the law. It is not against the law to defend yourself from such an assault.
- Sexual: Sexual abuse can include marital rape, forced touching under or over your clothes, attacks on the sexual parts of the body, forced prostitution, sodomy, incest, making you have sex with other people, constantly demeaning your sexual ability or the appearance of your sexual body parts, showing you unwanted pornography, etc.
- Emotional: Emotional abuse is one of the most lasting forms of domestic violence. It may involve belittling you, constant name calling, making you feel inadequate and incompetent, humiliation, repeatedly making and breaking promises, using your children against you, laughing at you or punishing you when you cry, ongoing silent treatment, blame for circumstances out of your control, or cruel put-downs.
- Psychological: This may include blackmail, harassment, threatening your children, cyber bullying/harassment, destruction of pets or property, intimidation, constant threats, withholding access to technology, phone, or transportation, isolating you from friends, work, church, family, or any enjoyable activity, threatening to commit suicide or injure themselves if you don’t obey, constantly checking up on you, imprisonment, or turning your family and friends against you by telling lies.
- Financial: Financial abuse is a serious hurdle in escaping an abusive relationship. This type of abuse can include cutting you off from financial access and budget information, withholding money (even your own wages or salary), forcing you to ask for money, requiring accountability and justification for all money spent, forced welfare fraud, not allowing you to apply for or have a job or, on the other hand, forcing you to work as the sole earner in the household, or only giving you a small monetary “allowance.”
If you are experiencing one or more types of domestic violence, contact REACH today. The types of behaviors listed above are not normal and may be a crime. However, you do not have to press charges against the abuser to use our services. Remember, abuse is NEVER your fault. You deserve to have a peaceful home. Let us help you find your path to a life free of fear and violence.