Every year thousands of men and women are victims of domestic violence. Many of these cases often go unreported and lead to continual abuse. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Here are resources and ways to help identify if someone you know is experiencing domestic violence.
Domestic violence is often associated with physical violence towards another person. However, it can take on many forms and can include mental abuse. Domestic violence is any behavior used to exert control or power over a spouse, partner, or an intimate family member (www.acesdv.org). Often, this control is used to maintain a sense of dominance over the partner. Domestic Abuse happens in various ways, from physical abuse to sexual abuse and emotional abuse. A perpetrator may engage in isolation techniques as a form of emotional abuse or use economic abuse, such as withholding funds from the victim. They may also engage in stalking behaviors or tell the victim what to do or where they can go. Each form of abuse uses power, manipulation, and control to make the victim believe that they are dependent upon the person. At times, the perpetrator may attempt to apologize or make amends, but will most likely return to previous behaviors. Over time, these behaviors may escalate and make it more difficult for the victim to reach out for support.
While there may be visual signs that a person is suffering from abuse or violence, there may be invisible hurts that your loved one is experiencing. If you notice that a loved one is withdrawing from socializing with others, seems nervous when discussing their partner, blames themselves for their partner’s behaviors, or shows signs of physical injury, these may also be signs of domestic violence. Sometimes, victims may also display personality changes, such as low self-esteem when they are typically confident (www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-domestic-abuse-signs#2).
If you or someone you know are experiencing this, there are ways to get help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides 24/7 access to resources and support. There are also safety planning tools that can help identify the signs of domestic violence and create a plan if needed. While domestic violence is sometimes kept as a secret, it does not have to be. If you or someone you know is experiencing a violent or toxic relationship, reach out for support, there are additional resources to help.
Chante’ Gamby is a writer and therapist passionate about social justice and empowering others to live their best lives. You can follow her on Facebook at Fringefam, Instagram@fringegram, or on her website, www.fringefam.com.