LENISA A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVOR
Domestic Violence Is…
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, economic class, immigration status, religion, or gender. It can happen to couples that are married, living together, or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
Does the Person You Love:
* Threaten to hurt you or other people you care about?
* Hit, kick, punch, push, choke or use physical force against you?
* Criticize or blame you for everything that goes wrong?
* Humiliate you in front of other people?
* Control your access to money?
* Control the decision-making in your relationship?
* Control your time and actions?
* Put you down, call you names, make you feel like you’re crazy?
* Destroy your property or abuse your pets?
* Threaten to hurt you or commit suicide if you leave?
* Force or coerce you to have sex when you don’t want to?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship. You are not alone; many people just like you are dealing with violence at home. You didn’t cause the violence and no one has the right to hurt you. If you would like to talk with someone, free and confidential help is just a phone call away.
Warning signs of abuse
Some warning signs of abuse in the home or in a relationship include:
* Pushing for quick involvement: Comes on strong, claiming, “I’ve never felt loved like this by anyone.”
* Jealousy: Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work because “you might meet someone.”
* Controlling Behavior: Interrogates you intensely (especially if you’re late) about whom you talked to and where you were; keeps all the money; insists you ask permission to do anything.
* Unrealistic expectations: Expects you to be the perfect mate and meet his or her every need.
* Isolation: Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who support you of “causing trouble.”
* Blaming others for problems or mistakes: It’s always someone else’s fault when anything goes wrong.
* Making others responsible for his or her feelings: The abuser says, “You make me angry,” instead of “I am angry,” or says, “You’re hurting me by not doing what I tell you.”
* Hypersensitivity: Is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he or she is really mad.
* Cruelty to animals or children: Kills or punishes animals brutally. Also, may expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for wetting a diaper) or may tease them until they cry.
* Use of force during sex: Enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will during sex.
* Verbal abuse: Constantly criticizes or says blatantly cruel, hurtful things, degrades, curses, calls you ugly names.
* Rigid roles: Expects you to serve, obey and remain at home.
* Sudden mood swings: Switches from sweet to violent in minutes.
* Past battering: Admits to hitting a mate in the past, but says the person “made” him (or her) do it.
* Threats of violence: Says things like, “I’ll break your neck,” or “I’ll kill you,” and then dismisses them with, “I didn’t really mean it.”
How you can help victims of domestic violence
If you know someone in an abusive relationship, there are ways you can help.
Listen: If possible, find a time and place that is safe and confidential to talk to your friend/family member. Start the conversation by expressing concern, i.e. “I am worried about your safety.” Allow your friend/family to speak and let them know you believe what they are telling you.
Offer support: Let them know they are not alone and that no one deserves to be hurt. Abuse is not the victim’s fault. Assure them what they are feeling is okay. Then, ask how you can best support them.
Provide resources: Encourage them to reach out to community resources. Connect them with crisis hotlines, support groups, Domestic Violence shelters, mental health services, or anything else they may need.
Help safety plan: Make a safety plan with your friend/family.
Respect their choices: Do not pressure them into leaving. It is never as simple as just leaving. There are many reasons people stay in an abusive relationship. Offer them support and resources, but ultimately know it is their decision. Do not be judgmental or make them feel bad for staying in an abusive relationship. Let them know you will be there for them no matter what choice they make.
Remember, you are there to support your loved one, not to rescue or save them.