Broken: Information About Domestic and Partner Violence
A Poem: Broken
Waves of tears
Words like darts
Denied its part
I break apart
Your best friend never calls anymore, doesn’t come out anymore and won’t go anywhere without their s.o. They’ve changed from outgoing, social and full of awesome into this under-reacting, over-accepting ball of insecurity you barely recognize. Is it: C) your friend may feel trapped in an abusive relationship. Unfortunately abuse isn’t always this easy to spot. Not only is it not always so easy to spot, most of the time it doesn’t cross your mind to think that the change in behavior of a friend could be due to an abusive relationship. No one wants to think of someone they know as an abuser.
When people think of abuse
usually the first thing that comes to mind is screaming and hitting, but ‘ abuse’
is a gigantic umbrella covering a myriad of behaviors and actions. By
definition abuse is to use wrongly or
improperly , and there are many ways to accomplish that.
Popular Misconceptions and Commonly Misheard Facts
"Men are more likely to abuse than women"
Not so. Abuse is not gender related, but trait related. Unpredictable mood swings, extreme suspicion and jealousy, lack of self control, and being more apt to approve of violence and aggression are the most prominent.
"The abused must not be that upset or they would leave"
This is so far from the truth the truth is a dot in the distance. There are so many factors that come into play that cause the abused spouse to remain. The fear of physical retaliation; having no-where to go which, for some is a reality; having no money; no transportation; no shelter to go to with the children; the abused has given up; the abused is convinced that this is where they need to be and that they need to help their abusing spouse; believing still that their spouse can be changed; feeling guilt; being embarrassment… these are just a few and all are very real.
"The abused must have done something to trigger the abuse"
Regardless of how the day plays out at some point or another the abuser will snap over something. It may be a missing quarter, the abused being 10 minutes late, the abused not knowing something the abuser thinks they should, even cooking a meal they weren't hoping for. Can you say that someone deserves to be abused because they came home with one kind of cheese slices, but their spouse would have bought a different kind? Can you say that someone deserves to be abused because they’ve decided they're not happy and want to part ways? Or how about because they didn’t make enough money for their liking? Does that also deserve abuse?
Types of Domestic Abuse - a General Overview
These are all of the common types of domestic and partner abuse I could think of. Keep in mind, there are many things left off this list because there is just no way to categorize them. Each of these types have a million and 1 examples; this is an just overview.
- Verbal – belittling, insulting, name calling
- Physical – controlling, isolation, hitting, throwing, cutting, burning, choking, shaking, threatening with a weapon, being timed when you leave the house, being monitored or stalked
- Mental/emotional – controlling, objectification, blaming, ridiculing, manipulating, extreme jealousy, threatening, intimidating
- Sexual – controlling and overpowering someone in a sexual activity, degrading someone in
a sexual manner such as grabbing them, hurting them, exploiting them, embarrassing them in public with things of a sexual nature
- Other – controlling finances, taking all of the spouse’s money, withholding money for necessary things
- Domestic Abuse -- Why They Do It
Domestic violence and abuse is a very serious problem -- for the victims and the abusers
On the Subject of Why
The question of why people abuse isn’t one that has an answer. There cannot be one answer for something so complex. People who abuse others all have differing backgrounds, triggers, and reasons (Not excuses. Reasons). Almost every thing that has happened in your life has contributed to the person you are today. For this reason, it’s hard to pin point any specific reason for why someone would abuse someone else. Sometimes it’s as easy as work stressful>money issues stressful>feeling bad about self>marriage on the rocks>building resentment toward spouse>growing anger>loss of control>forcing control over what they can>lashing out. Sometimes it’s not.
Things that happened during childhood, teenage years, past relationships – romantic and non, external triggers in society, substance abuse, and emotional and/or social disorders are just some of the things that can contribute to a person becoming an abuser. People who abuse continue to abuse to keep getting the results of the abuse. Power, money, sex, control and narcissistic fulfillment come to mind. If you’ve ever been on the other end and seen what someone looks like when they’re abusing and after they’ve abused, you’ll know what I mean. It’s the attitude they have; empowering, self-gratifying and feeding into their bottomless ego with the knowledge that they have you right where they want you.
The lasting effects of abuse vary from person to person, but there are some trends. If there are children in the home the effects of the abuse are passed on to them. Parents are charged with the task of teaching children how to behave. Children see this as acceptable behavior (depending on their age) and it can go a few ways. They grow up to be abusers themselves, grow up to be abused by someone else, or grow up never forgetting what can happen in a relationship and are forever jaded in love and relationships. Children who grow up in abusive homes are also more likely to develop anxiety disorders and other mental/emotional disorders that otherwise may not have surfaced. Children who are also victims of the domestic violence face an entirely new world of potential pain and scarring.
For the partner being abused, there is a laundry list of effects that wait for them at the door. It doesn't matter who they were before the abuse - happy-go-lucky, spirited, fun, social, confident - they are no longer that person. They have been broken down and torn apart and molded into what their abuser wants. They leave as a shell of what they used to be, with no idea who they are anymore because their abuser has taken away their individuality and independence. They experience - not necessarily all, sometimes all, and not limited to - self-loathing, continued fear of their ex, fear of the future, the fear and feeling of lost that stems from feeling completely naked and void of all personality, feeling robbed, anger, resentment, guilt, confusion and loneliness.
Longer term, without counseling of some sort they're looking at deep, harbored resentment; nightmares and insomnia; a perpetual subconscious fear of everything they experienced with their ex; a very rough road to a successful relationship with someone else; inability to trust another, with a tendency to be overly-suspicious of everything their new partner does due to experience; and a vulnerability to developing PTSD. This is barely a list of what the future can hold for people who have lived through abuse. It takes years to get through it and to get to a point where they can confidently move forward to the future without having the past negatively influence everything.
Here’s another lasting effect: thousands of people are killed every year in North America alone due solely to domestic violence related homicide.
How do you know if you are in an abusive relationship? As you're reading this if you're in an abusive relationship, chances are, you know it. If you're not sure, however, you should seriously consider the following traits as indicators:
- You rarely see your friends anymore, and rarely get to communicate with them
afraid of your partner and their temperament
- You don’t mention certain topics out of fear of how your partner will react
- Your partner makes you feel like you can’t do anything right
- You start to believe that you’re the problem
- You are emotionally numb
- You feel helpless and alone
- You are starting to accept this as your fate
- Your partner is excessively jealous to the point where you can’t even say hello to a member of their gender without being accused of something
- Your partner controls where you go and who you see, if not directly, then through manipulation
- Your partner keeps track of how long you’re out and gets angry if you’re any longer than they think you should have been. This may also be accompanied by wild accusations and delusions.
- When your partner is not with you they constantly check up on you.
- If your
partner cannot find you they become angry and possessive
- Your partner has no respect for your opinions
- Your partner controls his and your money and you are unable to buy things you need or want. They may even spend both of your finances on unnecessary things they want, forgoing groceries, rent, bills and other basic needs
partner steals from you and gets angry at you if you find out and/or mention it
- Your partner humiliates you and belittles you, alone, in front of friends and family, and even in public
- You feel purely ornamental, and don't feel like a person
- Your partner orders you around and makes demands of you, and becomes angry if you don’t do something, or make a mistake
- Your partner calls you names, makes threats, says mean things to you and makes you feel terrible
- Your partner hits, bites, kicks, throws or chokes you, pushes you around or is extremely rough with you
- Your partner leaves bruises or marks on you
- Your partner throws things at you, throws you into things, or breaks things around you in anger
partner takes your things from you, or ruins your things
- Your partner
forces you into sexual acts you don't want to engage in
partner threatens to harm you, or threatens to kill you
- You partner threatens your friends and/or family
- Your partner threatens to kill themselves in the event that you leave
- Your partner blames you for their own shortcomings and things that go wrong in their life (ie: work or school related, things that you have no control over and no hand in)
- You feel as though you have no independence, you have no self-esteem left and feel that without your partner you have nothing
- Your partner controls your life (ie: keeping you from going back to school, or bettering yourself; making you feel guilt for wanting something for yourself)
- You comply with everything your partner says, and go everywhere they go
- Your partner concocts reasons to get angry at you and acts as if they were reality
- You are overly and constantly eager
to please your partner in any way
- You make
excuses for your partner’s actions to yourself, and to others
- You find yourself suppressing thoughts of leaving
- People try to talk to you about the situation you're in, and try to help you. You make excuses for your partner's actions and why you stay with them
Help is everywhere. It’s so hard to reach out and grab a hold of it. It’s there, and you know it’s there, but you feel guilt for leaving, and you know what’s waiting for you if something goes awry. No one deserves to be sentenced to this 'life' of servitude and punishment. It comes as a harsh realization, but your partner will never stop this. They will not change. You cannot change them. This will not get better with time. Not even your unconditional, perpetual, absolute love and affection can do anything except continue to betray you by keeping you attached to an abusive relationship. Your abuser may say they love you, but is this how you would treat someone you love? Is this how anyone would treat someone they love?
Abusive relationships are indeed hard to free yourself from. Often times for a while there exists something akin to Stockholm Syndrome. You believe you're meant to be there, you know you shouldn't be there, yet you want to be there. You convince yourself that the abuse is OK, and not really that bad. Once that passes you move on to a defeated sense of self, silently wishing you could leave, wanting something better for yourself, and giving in to what seems like your fate as you feel guilty inside for thinking of leaving. You pass through 'angry' and become complacent, you no longer care about fun, you surrender your thoughts and your life and become something of an automaton while you live out this terrible excuse for a relationship, trying new things at every turn to 'make things better' only to be met by more heartbreak.
Hopefully, the day finally comes when the door opens up and all you see is light; and while you're leaving behind the worst thing that ever happened to you, it still hurts so much to leave. I’ll say, this is one of the hardest situations to get out of, should you find yourself in it, but getting out of it is the best thing to do, and the only way to save yourself.
Breaking the Chains
Understand that leaving can be dangerous. Don’t give your spouse any indication of your intent. This will only cause a fit of anger, followed by another episode of false emotional bandaging to keep you there longer. Also because of this, be careful who you tell and if possible, tell only the people directly involved. If you think your children will have a hard time keeping the secret, it may sound harsh, but don’t tell them. Just take them when you go, and tell them where you're going while you're on your way there. Arrange for a good time to leave, preferably when your spouse is out, at school or work, even the small 10 minute window of opportunity while they’re in the shower if need be. Arrange transportation and shelter, and have a plan. Staying with friends and family should be your last resort. Your abuser may be able to find you there and confront you. Your 1st choice should be a location your abuser does not know, and can not find out about. Violence shelters will provide you and your children with everything you need including protection, advice, and assistance getting your life back on track.
Unless you have the opportunity to actually 'move out', only bring things of extreme value (ie: legal documents, old family photos (no albums or frames, just photos), financial documents, contact information). When getting your things ready in advance, leave any items that will cause detection (ie: furniture, dish sets, electronics). If you have any documents concerning your abuse (photos, diary entries, letters, threats, medical documents) do not leave them. Bring them with you.
Things could also come down to leaving with bare essentials; or leaving with nothing at a moment’s notice. If you can, because I know in some circumstances you can’t, have a very small emergency bag packed with 2 days clothes for you and your kids in it, important documents and spare necessities. Store it in the back of a closet or somewhere your partner won’t find it, but you can grab on the way out in an emergency.
Once You're Out
Avoid places you know your spouse will be. You may be told
that this is just another form of letting your spouse have control over you,
but in reality this is you finally taking control of what happens to you. For the
first little while don’t go anywhere alone. Not even shopping. Change your
numbers to avoid the onslaught of harassing phone calls; if you have a joint
bank account, open up your own and make sure to use passwords they won’t guess;
if you can change your place of employment (or notify your current employer of the
situation so they can notify the authorities if your partner shows up); obtain a protective
order for you and your children, and get as far away as you can. If necessary look into other schools for your children and be ready to transfer them when you are out. This may not be a necessity for everyone with children, but it will be for some.
*Remember that if this situation involves children, to privately seek the advice of a lawyer (if you can’t, have a friend do it for you and give you the information) to confirm your boundaries. The last thing you need is your abuser to have another weapon against you in the form of kidnapping charges.
Keep yourself busy. Employ your friends and family for this, and ask them to help make sure you are always busy, especially at times when you would have done something with your ex. Ensure your children see a councilor. They may not think they need it, but these things have many ways of manifesting and causing permanent damage.
Remember, you’re better than this; you deserve better; you can have better - 'better' is right there for you to take. Remember that the emotion of loneliness is temporary; and that until this is all over with, listen to your head, not your heart. Before you take one step more, you, yourself, see a councilor. This is extremely important if you are to become re-acquainted with yourself as an individual, learn how to love yourself, build yourself back up to a self-sustaining level, and find ways to help you with your past so you can move on to the future without this.
Where to Find Help
- Help in Your Area - US
Help listed by State
- National Domestic Violence Hotline - US
1.800.799.SAFE (7233) 1.800.787.3224 (TTY) Anonymous & Confidential Help 24/7
- Worldwide Directory of Help for Domestic Violence Victims
Search-able list of abuse hot-lines, shelters, refuges, crisis centers and gender organizations, by country, plus an index of domestic violence resources in over 80 languages
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