Domestic violence is usually defined as violent or aggressive behavior within the home, usually between partners or a spouse.
Domestic violence usually doesn’t start right away at the beginning of the relationship. In many cases, the relationship starts out great with a very giving, kind and unselfish partner. They can seem almost perfect, too good to be true. Eventually the controlling behavior starts. It is gradual and often goes unnoticed at first. Sometimes you don’t even realize it until someone else points it out. It’s hard to acknowledge at first. Sometimes we feel responsible or guilty or even stupid for not seeing it before. One thing is for sure…it is not your fault. You didn’t do anything to deserve it.
In the year I worked for the county Prosecutor. I worked with too many victim of domestic violence. At any given time, I had 25 open domestic violence cases. Several of the victims wouldn’t communicate with me. They were still supporting their abuser. There were several reasons…probably the most prevalent was that they still loved them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Another reason is because the abuser was the only one they had for support either financial or emotional. If they had been isolated, they didn’t have friends or family to go stay with to help them get a way. The abuser made sure of that. Or they didn’t have any money to leave. They felt trapped. They didn’t know there were resources out there to help them. The victims that I did talk to would often experience the same red flags, but didn’t see them.
Below are some things to watch out for. If your partner or the partner of a friend starts doing these things, it’s time to look for some help and possibly a way out.
- Being jealous of your friends, your job and any time spent away from your partner
- Isolating you from friends and family
- Telling you that your family doesn’t love you like they do or that they just don’t want you to be happy
- Threatening to take your children away or calling Child Protective Services
- Telling you that you can never do anything right or always putting you down
- Refusing to give you money to pay bills
- Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you
- Controlling who you see, where you go, or what you do
- Preventing you from making your own decisions
- Preventing you from working or attending school
- Destroying your property or threatening to hurt or kill your pets
- Intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons
- Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
- Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol
It doesn’t take any or all of these red flags to mean a partner may become abusive, but in my time working experience, 99% of the time, many of these things if not all were happening prior to the abuse.
An abusive partner is often insecure and has very low self esteem which is why they have a hard time trusting. They feel like the only way to keep you is make you feel worse than they do and take away any chance you have of getting free of them. They often will tell you they are sorry and can’t live without you. They can play on your emotions and make you believe they can really change. Too many times, they can’t. Once you allow physical abuse it will only get worse and it becomes even harder to get out of the relationship.
There is help out there. There are hotlines you can call to talk to a qualified person ready to help you. They can give you information on local resources that can help you get out of the home, get financial assistance or housing, prepare you for getting a job and even possibly help you get additional education such as a GED or college degree. There really is a way out even when you think it’s impossible. There a people to talk to and provide support no matter what your situation is. YOU are worth it!
If you need help finding resources in your area, please feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or use one of the resources below.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Staffed 24 hours a day by trained counselors who can provide crisis assistance and information about shelters, legal advocacy, health care centers, and counseling.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization. Among its programs, RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline at rainn.org . This nationwide partnership of more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers provides victims of sexual assault with free, confidential services, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. These hotlines have helped over 1.3 million people since RAINN’s founding in 1994.