There are several different kinds of domestic violence. For many people, what comes to mind is the traditional image of the “battered wife.” However, domestic violence can involve other forms of control rather than physical. Abuse can be verbal or emotional, as well. Domestic violence can also be sexual abuse. Domestic violence situations commonly escalate, rather than diminish. Escaping an abusive situation is critical. The statistics show that most abusers will gradually increase the abuse and the situation can become more dangerous as time goes on. If you suspect that you or someone you care about is the victim of domestic violence, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Here are questions that you can ask yourself that will point to five common signs that may indicate that someone is a victim of domestic violence:
- Are you afraid of your partner? Are you afraid of making him angry or disappointing him? Does he often have extreme reactions to frustration and/or disappointment? Are you led to believe that you can do nothing right? If the answers to any of these questions are “yes,” then you are the victim of domestic violence.
- Has your partner ever physically assaulted you? Has he ever threatened to harm you? Has he damaged property in a fit of anger or frustration, in an attempt to show you his power or to possibly try to avoid hurting you at the time of his outburst? If so, then you are the victim of domestic violence.
- Does your partner closely monitor your activities, your comings and goings, your phone calls, emails or other personal information? Are you forced to account for every minute of your day? Does your partner become upset if he doesn’t know where you are, who you are with or when you will be returning? Are you forced to be isolated from friends or family? Excessive jealousy can be a sign of an abusive relationship.
- Does your partner blame you for his frustration, disappointment or jealousy? Are you told that you are not good enough or that you cannot do anything right? This is a sign of domestic violence.
- Do you feel helpless, isolated, trapped or alone in the relationship? Are you afraid to leave for fear that your partner may “hunt you down” or harm you? Have you been threatened with violence if you try to leave? If this is the case, you are a victim of domestic violence.
Victims of domestic violence need to know that the domestic violence does not stop just because “they are behaving themselves” and no current physical abuse is occurring. They also need to know that not all domestic violence cases involve physical abuse—verbal and emotional abuse counts, too. Unfortunately, part of being a victim is feeling powerless and unable to change the situation. Few abusers will ever change, and the only way to stop the cycle is by taking the very difficult step of leaving the abusive relationship. Domestic violence is a crime and should not be ignored.