Domestic Violence Against Women: Recognizing Patterns, Seeking Help
Domestic violence is a serious threat to many women. Know the signs of an abusive relationship and how to get out of a dangerous situation.
Domestic violence is a serious threat to many women. Know the signs of an abusive relationship and how to get out of a dangerous situation.By the staff of the Mayo Clinic
Your partner apologizes and says the hurtful behavior won't happen again, but you fear it will. Sometimes you wonder if you're imagining the abuse, but the emotional or physical pain you're feeling is real. If this sounds familiar, you may be experiencing domestic violence.
Recognize domestic violence
Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, occurs between people in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence can take many forms, including emotional, sexual, and physical abuse and threats of abuse. Intimate partner abuse can happen to anyone, but domestic violence is often directed at women. Domestic violence can occur in heterosexual and same-sex relationships.
Abusive relationships always involve an imbalance of power and control. An abuser uses intimidating and abusive words and behavior to control their partner.
It can't be easy to identify domestic violence early on. While some relationships are clearly abusive to begin with, abuse often starts out subtle and gets worse over time. You can experience domestic violence if you are in a relationship with someone who:
- Call him names, insult him, or belittle him
- Prevents or discourages them from going to work or school, or seeing family or friends
- He tries to control how he spends his money, where he goes, what medicines he takes, or what clothes he wears.
- Behave in a zealous or possessive manner, or constantly make accusations of being unfaithful
- Gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs
- Threatening you with violence or a weapon
- hits, kicks, pushes, hits, chokes, or injures you, your children, or your pets
- Forces you to have sex or engage in sexual activity against your will
- Blames you for your violent behavior or tells you you deserve it
If you are in a same-sex relationship, or if you are bisexual or transgender, you can also experience abuse if you are in a relationship with someone who:
- Threatening to tell friends, family, coworkers, or community members about your sexual orientation or gender identity
- Tell him that the authorities will not help him because of his sexuality or gender identity.
- Justifies abuse by questioning their sexuality or gender identity
Pregnancy, children, relatives and domestic violence
Sometimes domestic violence begins or escalates during pregnancy. Domestic violence endangers your health and that of your baby. The danger continues after the baby is born.
Even if your child is not being abused, just witnessing domestic violence can be harmful. Children raised in abusive families are more likely to be abused and have behavioral problems than other children. As adults, they are more likely to become bullies or think that abuse is a normal part of relationships.
You may be concerned that speaking the truth will put you, your child, or other family members at greater risk and that it could divide your family. But getting help is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.
break the cycle
When you find yourself in an abusive situation, you may see this pattern:
- Your attacker threatens violence.
- Your attacker attacks.
- Her abuser apologizes, promises to change, and offers gifts.
- The cycle repeats itself.
The longer you stay in an abusive relationship, the greater the physical and emotional toll. You may feel depressed and anxious, or you may begin to doubt your ability to take care of yourself. You may feel helpless or paralyzed.
You may also wonder if the abuse is your fault, a common point of confusion among domestic violence survivors that can make it difficult for them to seek help.
Don't take the blame
You may not be willing to seek help because you believe you are at least partially responsible for the abuse in the relationship. Reasons can be:
- Your partner blames youfor violence in their relationship. Abusive partners rarely take responsibility for their actions.
- Your partner only engages in abusive behavior towards you.Abusers are often preoccupied with appearances and can appear charming and staunch to outsiders. This can lead you to believe that your actions can only be explained by something you have done.
- Therapists and health professionals who treat you alone or with your partner have not found any problems.If you haven't told your doctor about the abuse, they may just notice unhealthy patterns in your thinking or behavior. This can lead to a misdiagnosis. For example, survivors of intimate partner violence may develop symptoms that mimic chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia. Exposure to intimate partner violence also increases the risk of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- You have acted verbally or physically against your perpetrator,Yelling at, pushing, or hitting your partner during conflicts. You may worry about being abusive, but it's far more likely that you acted in self-defense or suffered from severe emotional distress. Your abuser can use such incidents to manipulate you and present them as evidence that you are the abusive partner.
If you're having trouble seeing what's going on, step back and look at the broader patterns in your relationship. Then look at the signs of domestic violence. In an abusive relationship, the person who routinely engages in these behaviors is the abuser. The person receiving it is being abused.
if you are an immigrant, you may hesitate to seek help for fear of deportation. Language barriers, lack of financial independence, and limited social support can increase their isolation and ability to access resources.
United States law protects against domestic violence regardless of your immigration status. Free or low-cost resources are available, including lawyers, shelter, and medical care for you and your children. You may also be entitled to legal protections that allow migrants who experience domestic violence to remain in the United States.
Call a national domestic violence hotline for advice. These services are free and protect your privacy.
- if you are an older woman, you may face challenges related to your age and the length of your relationship. You may have grown up in a time when domestic violence just wasn't talked about. You or your partner may have health issues that increase your dependency or sense of responsibility.
- If you are in a same-sex relationship, you are less likely to seek help after an assault if you choose not to disclose your sexual orientation. If you have been sexually abused by another woman, you may also fear that she will not believe you.
Still, the only way to break the cycle of domestic violence is to take action. Begin by telling someone about the abuse, whether it's a friend, loved one, healthcare professional, or another close contact. You can also call a national domestic violence hotline.
At first you may find it difficult to talk about the abuse. But understand that you are not alone and that there are experts who can help you. You will also likely feel relief and get the support you need.
Create a security plan
Leaving an abuser can be dangerous. Consider taking these precautions:
- Call a women's shelter or domestic violence hotline for counseling. Make the call at a safe time when the abuser isn't around, or from a friend's house or other safe place.
- Pack an emergency bag with items you will need when you leave, such as: B. Extra clothing and keys. Leave the bag in a safe place. Keep important personal documents, cash, and prescription medications handy so you can take them with you at short notice.
- Know exactly where you are going and how to get there.
Secure your communications and location
An abuser can use technology to monitor your phone and online communications and track your location. If you're worried about your safety, get help. To protect your privacy:
- Use phones with caution.Your abuser can intercept calls and listen to your conversations. An abusive partner could use your caller ID, check your cell phone, or look into your phone's billing records to see your call history and text messages.
- Use your home computer with caution.Your attacker can use spyware to monitor your email and the websites you visit. Consider using a computer at work, the library, or a friend's house to get help.
- Turn off GPS devices.Your abuser can use a GPS device in your vehicle or phone to pinpoint your location.
- Change your email password regularly.Choose passwords that are difficult for the attacker to guess.
- Clear your watch history.Follow your browser's instructions to clear any logs from websites or graphics you've viewed.
where to find help
In an emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number or law enforcement agency. The following resources may also help:
- someone you trustAsk a friend, loved one, neighbor, colleague, or religious or spiritual advisor for support.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233; toll-free).Call the crisis intervention hotline and refer them to resources such as women's shelters.
- your healthcare provider.A healthcare professional will usually treat the wounds and can refer you to safe shelter and other local resources.
- A local women's shelter or crisis center.Emergency shelters and crisis centers often provide 24-hour emergency shelter, as well as legal advice, advocacy and support services.
- A counseling or psychiatric center.Counseling and support groups for women in abusive relationships are available in most communities.
- A district court.A court can help you obtain a restraining order that legally requires the offender to stay away from you or be arrested. Local lawyers may be available to guide you through the process.
It can be difficult to recognize or admit that you are in an abusive relationship, but help is available. Remember, nobody deserves to be abused.
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14. April 2022
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