A Definition of Domestic Abuse and Violence. Are You a Victim?
Are you a victim of domestic abuse, be it verbal, emotional or physical?
What is the definition of domestic abuse within relationships and can you be sure if you are being abused, or do you believe it must be your own fault these things are happening to you?
How do you know when the time is right to seek out a domestic abuse lawyer to ensure justice is done?
Remember, not all domestic abuse is necessarily physically violent, much of it is actually verbal psychological abuse, frequently leaving the victim with low self esteem, feelings of worthlessness, addicted to their partner and hanging on for the odd crumbs of affection that might get thrown in their direction.
After I wrote my previous hub on my own experiences of domestic violence and abuse, I got to thinking more about actually defining abuse for someone who may be unsure if they are overreacting, or might be blaming themselves for the abuse being inflicted on them at all. I decided to do some further research and gather up a selection of definitions and description of what constitutes abuse, be it domestic violence, verbal abuse, psychological abuse etc.
This is what I found out, and It came as quite a shock even to me, as I realised that through two of my worst previous relationships, (one of these living with a complete control freak) I had experienced a vast amount of these personally, yet many of them I hadn't immediately associated with constituting actual abuse. If you have ever been a victim of abuse yourselves, (especially from a spouse or partner), see how many of these boxes you can tick as having happened to you too. It is a real eye opener.
So What Defines Abuse?
Pressure tactics - sulking, threatening to keep money away from you, disconnecting the telephone line, taking the car away, threatening to commit suicide, taking the children away from you, reporting you to welfare agencies on how you are bringing up the children, lying to your friends and family about you, telling you that you have no choice in any decisions being made.
Disrespect - Constantly putting you down in front of people, not listening to you when you talk, interrupting when you are on the phone, stealing money from your wallet.
Breaking Trust - Lying and withholding information from you, (in conjunction with other elements on this list, as on their own they would not be ideal, not really enough to constitute abuse).
Isolation - Spying on phone calls, blocking phone calls, stating where you can go and where you can't, preventing you from seeing your friends and relatives.
Harassment - Following where you go, spying, checking up on you, opening your mail, checking phone register, embarrassing you in public.
Threats - Being verbally aggressive by shouting at you, threatening you with a gun or a knife, destroying your personal belongings, breaking things, punching walls, using kids as a threat to you by threatening them.
Sexual violence - Making you perform sex acts, forcing sex on you, any degrading treatment done sexually.
Physical violence - punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, shoving, burning, strangling.
Denial - Denying it ever took place, blaming you for this behaviour towards you, begging for forgiveness, saying it will never happen again.
Information above courtesy of http://www.umbrellafwtw.org
Now what shocked me out of the above was that in the course of my two abusive relationships I had endured the following from the above list:
This was particularly shocking when I realised looking back at the list that there was hardly any of it I hadn't been on the receiving end of, and actually as I don't have children, that nature of threat was impossible (although I found out my "Control Freak" from the second violent relationship I was in had threatened his ex over their child later on, and actually did report her to the authorities claiming she had shoved his and her young daughter into a door. Luckily the child immediately said to the social worker that this was a silly thing to say and Mummy would never do that to her).
He also tried to sue her for custody of the child, although when he couldn't get his own way on various issues he refused to even see the child any more (and hasn't now for over two years, which is probably a good thing for the little girl in question). So this ex girlfriend actually experienced the part I couldn't, i.e.
"taking the children away from you, reporting you to welfare agencies on how you are bringing up the children"
Some Other Interesting Quotes I Discovered Regarding Abuse.
"Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence .
Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under their thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.
Domestic violence and abuse do not discriminate. It happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and financial levels. Whilst women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused, especially verbally and emotionally.
Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to physical violence and even murder. Whilst physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. No one deserves this kind of pain, and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need."
Quotes above courtesy of http://helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_types_signs_causes_effects.htm
It goes without saying that once you reach the stage where you almost dread being around your partner and are fearful that any second he is going into his Jekyll and Hyde impression if you put a foot wrong, then there is something not right in your relationship.
Ask your self the following questions if you are in any doubt as to your situation.
- feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
- avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
- feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
- believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
- wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
- feel emotionally numb or helpless?
Does your partner:
- humiliate or yell at you?
- criticize you and put you down?
- treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
- ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
- blame you for his own abusive behavior?
- see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
- act excessively jealous and possessive?
- control where you go or what you do?
- keep you from seeing your friends or family?
- limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
- constantly check up on you?
- have a bad and unpredictable temper?
- hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
- threaten to take your children away or harm them?
- threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
- force you to have sex?
- destroy your belongings?
The More I Read, the More Shocked I Became.
It sounds naïve, but the more I kept on reading about this stuff, the more I found myself saying, 'yes, yes, that happened to me, yes he was like that with me too'. I actually found this quite uplifting, as after two relationships that consisted mainly of the kinds of abuse I have described, a part of me did wonder if it was my fault. Reading this information made me feel vindicated somehow, and gave me a huge desire to go running to everyone in my past who tended to believe my abusers were victims who had been unlucky enough to have to put up with me (mainly because both of these exes were such plausible liars, especially in the second case) and then I could thrust the information at them having first used a highlighter pen to mark all the relevant areas that applied to my experience of domestic violence with the ex in question.
Abusers use a variety of methods to keep you under their control, for example, they will humiliate you, put you down, tell you that no-one likes you, that people only speak to you because you are with them (the abuser). They will tell you that you are ugly, boring, stupid etc and will do their best to put you down or embarrass you in front of other people.
Contrary to what you may believe, an abuser is usually fully in control of his or her behaviour, and can turn it on and off like a light switch, so proving that they are not in an uncontrollable rage.
- He does not batter other individuals - the boss who does not give him time off or the gas station attendant that spills gas down the side of his car. He waits until there are no witnesses and abuses the person he says he loves.
- If you ask an abused woman, "can he stop when the phone rings or the police come to the door?" She will say "yes". Most often when the police show up, he is looking calm, cool and collected and she is the one who may look hysterical. If he were truly "out of control" he would not be able to stop himself when it is to his advantage to do so.
- The abuser very often escalates from pushing and shoving to hitting in places where the bruises and marks will not show. If he were "out of control" or "in a rage" he would not be able to direct or limit where his kicks or punches land.
Abuse – Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play designed to show you "who is boss."
Guilt – After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what he's done. He’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for his abusive behavior. "Normal" behavior – Your abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep you in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give you hope that your abusive partner has really changed this time. Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he'll make you pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality. Set-up – Your abuser sets you up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where he can justify abusing you.
Your abuser’s apologies and kind behaviour in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. He can convince you that you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, and that he truly loves you. However, don't fall into the trap of believing this.
If after reading all of this you now believe that you actually are a domestic abuse victim, whether this is physical abuse, mental abuse or both, then please know that it is not your fault and that you will realise this once you break your addiction to this person and no longer have reason to fear them. Don't wait until they kill your pets, threaten the children, or put you in hospital (or worse!).
If you are married to this person, or he/she is a long term partner, there are plenty of excellent domestic abuse lawyers out there who are vastly experienced in dealing with such cases. Call the Police as they can protect you from further abuse. Contact shelters for abused women and get yourself, your children and your pets out of the situation.
Above all else don't stay in denial, this problem will not go away (and more often than not it will get worse). Your family and friends will support you, but only if you talk to them about your situation and let them help you make a new start.
© 2009 Cindy Lawson