If one intimate partner is using coercion, threats, physical violence, intimidation, isolation, emotional or any other type of abuse to control the other partner, it is classified as domestic violence.
While many people like to believe “it could never happen to me”, in fact domestic abuse can happen to anyone in any part of the world. People of any nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender or economic status can become domestic violence victims. Domestic abuse has been known to occur in same sex relationships as well as opposite sex relationships.
According to data from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence General Information Packet (2007), almost 95% of DV victims are women. Of the women in intimate relationships, more than half are likely to experience physical violence at some point in their relationship and for about 24-30% of these women, this violence and battering is likely to be ongoing.
Most abusers are men and while big, loud aggressive men seem like the stereotypical abusers, even small, quiet, unassuming men can be abusive.
If you have children and are living in a poisonous abusive environment, this could affect their well being as well. They are not only traumatized by the abuse, but they are at risk of becoming victims of the abuser as well. Long term exposure to an abusive relationship can lead to severe psychological and social problems for the child. Some studies also say that boys who grow up in an abusive environment are likely to become abusers as well but this is not true in all cases.
Abuse isn’t always limited to being physical alone and any sort of abuse in a relationship is an instant deal breaker. Domestic violence can include physical, emotional, sexual, economic and psychological abuse.
- Physical Abuse
If your partner is doing any of the following – hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, biting, pinching, hair pulling etc, it qualifies as physical abuse. In addition, if you are refused medical care or are being forced to use alcohol or drugs, you are a victim of physical abuse.
- Sexual Abuse
Any sexual contact without consent qualifies as sexual abuse. Remember, being married does not automatically give your partner the right to force sexual contact. Marital rape, intimidating one to force into having sex, forcing a victim to perform sexual acts on another person, forcing a victim to pose for sexually explicit photographs or simply just treating a victim in a manner that is sexually derogatory counts as sexual abuse.
- Economic Abuse
When one partner makes the other partner financially dependent on them as a means to gain control over them, it is known as economic abuse. Victims are often forbidden from gaining employment and are denied access to anyone or anything that may be a potential source of money.
- Emotional Abuse
While physical, sexual or economic abuse is easier to spot, victims of emotional and psychological abuse often have trouble, admitting even to themselves that they may be victims of DV. Emotional abuse involves undermining a person’s self worth and self esteem, name calling, belittling the person, emotional blackmail etc.
- Psychological Abuse
Psychological abuse is similar to emotional abuse but is more about causing fear by intimidating the victim. Threats of physical harm, threats to hurt children, isolating the victim from friends and family, destruction of property etc constitute as psychological abuse.
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