Domestic violence, also referred to as domestic abuse or intimate partner violence, is a global problem that affects both women and men.
Are you concerned that someone dear to you is living in an abusive home or is in an abusive relationship?
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What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence involves intimidation, threats, and using force to control a family member or partner.
Abusive behaviour includes all physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual actions that a person does or threatens to do against another. Perpetrators can attack another person by surprise or even while the other is sleeping.
A person does not need to be a blood relative to be considered a victim of domestic violence. Even violence among people who are dating or in a relationship is considered domestic abuse.
How to Help People Experiencing Domestic Abuse
If you are wondering if someone you know is in an abusive relationship or is experiencing domestic violence, do the following:
- Check the following warning signs:
- They make excuses for their physical injuries. They may wear long-sleeved clothes even during warm weather to hide bruises.
- They are overly fearful about not pleasing their partner or family member.
- They excuse themselves from school, work, or social gatherings without reason.
- Their personalities suddenly shift. For instance, a confident person suddenly loses self-esteem.
- They usually do not have money on hand.
- Gather as much information as possible about domestic abuse.
Research about domestic violence and the available programs and services in your area, where you can refer your loved one for support and protection.
- Listen without judgment.
If you suspect your friend or loved one is in an abusive relationship, do not force them to open up about the issue. Instead, wait for them to come and confide with you.
Avoid criticising these individuals for what they are experiencing, or do not downplay their fear of potential danger.
Their abuser may have repeatedly told their friends or loved ones that they are dumb, worthless, or defective. Remind your relative or friend of their strengths and skills.
- Encourage your friend to get assistance.
Privately share the details you have gathered from support institutions and local community programs when your loved one or friend finally asks you for advice.
- Develop a safety plan with your friend.
Help your relative or friend face the reality that they may endanger themselves and their children by choosing to stay with their abuser.
Talk to domestic violence program staff or legal professionals when thinking of a plan to suggest to your loved ones to help protect them and their children ahead of the abuser’s next “attack.”
Advise your loved one to contact the local domestic violence hotline or domestic violence shelter when they decide to leave their home. It is best to place the call when the abuser is not at home or from a safe location.
Suggest that your relative or friend list down names and contact numbers of people they can contact in an emergency. Your loved one should know exactly where to go and how to get there when they need to escape.
Also, recommend that your loved ones pack an emergency bag with their clothing, personal documents, personal items, and money.
Signs That a Family Member Is Abusive
In an abusive relationship, you are likely to fear the perpetrator or abuser due to the following tactics:
- Abusers embarrass you in front of other people.
- They belittle or put down your accomplishments.
- They make you feel incapable of making decisions.
- They use threats or intimidation to gain compliance.
- Abusers blame you for how they act or feel.
- After a fight, they bar you from leaving the house or leaving you somewhere to “teach you a lesson.”
- They accuse you of having an affair.
Physical and sexual abuse:
- Abusers pressure you into sexual activity.
- They physically mistreat you through hitting, pinching, and other physically hurtful actions, including throwing things at you.
- They may check on you (through calls or physical appearance) to ensure your location is where you said you would be.
- They steal your money or keep your cash and credit cards away from you.
- They do not give money for your basic needs. If they put you on an allowance, you need to account for every cent you spend.
- Abusers stop you from spending time with family members or friends.
- They threaten to hurt or kill you or someone close to you.
Abusive people usually go through a cycle of threatening violence, committing the action, apologising with a promise to change, and making violent threats again.
Factors Behind Abusive Behaviour
Individuals learn abusive behaviour. People who grew up in families where someone was abusive can exhibit the same behaviour in their adulthood.
Perpetrators of abuse also act the way they do due to the following beliefs:
- They believe in their right to behave in whatever way they like while at home.
- They believe that anger and violence are necessary to keep things in order within the family.
- They believe that “real men” should be tough and in control of decision-making, such as household spending.
- They blame you, alcohol, or stress for provoking them to anger or violence.
- They believe in their entitlement to sex from their partner.
Effects of Domestic Violence in the Home
Children are most affected when they live in a home where domestic violence happens. Some of these emotional and social effects include:
- A higher risk of depression, severe anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder in which children are prone to experience nightmares, sleeping, difficulties, and self-enactment of abuse incidents
- Learning difficulties (including poor concentration)
- Limited social skills
- Displays of aggressive, risky, or delinquent behaviour
Moreover, children witnessing abuse can affect their physical health as the stress can cause headaches and stomach pains. Parenting plays an important role in both the mental and physical wellbeing of a child. It’s a must to know the fundamentals to provide safe space for children. Visit Motherhood Community for parenting advice.
Violent homes also make children vulnerable to peer pressure, unsafe sexual behaviour, and drug misuse as they seek an outlet to escape their stressful environments.
- Intimate partner violence
- Facts and figures: Ending violence against women
- Domestic Violence Against Men—Prevalence and Risk Factors
- Domestic Violence
- How Long Can You Go to Jail for Domestic Violence?
- Violence Against Women and Men: Domestic Violence in India
- Domestic Violence Against Men in India: A Serious Issue
- Family Violence Explained
- Domestic Abuse
- Domestic violence against women: Recognize patterns, seek help
- Why Do People Abuse
- The Long-Term Effects of Domestic Violence on Children
- How Domestic Violence May Affect Children
- Helping a Friend Who May be a Victim of Abuse
- Domestic violence against women: Recognize patterns, seek help