Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.
The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.
Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control.
Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death. The devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.
Will my partner become abusive?
It is not always easy to determine domestic violence in the early stages of a relationship if one person will become abusive. Domestic violence intensified over time. Abusers may often seem wonderful and perfect initially but gradually become more aggressive and controlling as the relationship continues.
Abuse in a relationship is about power and control and is unhealthy and often unsafe. Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partner.
Why do people abuse?
Domestic violence and abuse stem from a desire to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abusive people believe they have the right to control and restrict their partners, and they may enjoy the feeling that exerting power gives them. They often believe that their own feelings and needs should be the priority in their relationships, so they use abusive tactics to dismantle equality and make their partners feel less valuable and deserving of respect in the relationship.
Abuse is a learned behavior. Sometimes people see it in their own families. Other times they learn it from friends or popular culture. However, abuse is a choice, and it’s not one that anyone has to make. Many people who experience or witness abuse growing up decide not to use those negative and hurtful ways of behaving in their own relationships. While outside forces such as drug or alcohol addiction can sometimes escalate abuse, it’s most important to recognize that these issues do not cause abuse.
Source: The National Domestic Violence Hotline | www.thehotline.org
The Warning Signs of Abuse
Some of the signs of an abusive relationship includes a partner who may do the following:
You avoid family and friends and/ or your partner keeps you from family and friends. You spend all your free time with your partner.
You do not participate in activities that you enjoyed before beginning the relationship. You experience sudden changes in eating habits, dress, or appearance.
Your partner displays jealous or possessive tendencies but states that he/she is only looking after you and that it is because he/she loves you.
Your partner frequently uses name calling, threats, or intimidation against you.
You are unable or fearful of making decisions without your partner. You have an unreasonable fear of upsetting your partner.
You find yourself frequently justifying your partner’s behavior to your friends and family. You take the blame when your partner becomes upset or angry with you.
Source: Women's and Children's Alliance, www.wcaboise.org