According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), on average nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. This is more than 10 million women and men every year. Domestic violence does not discriminate; it can happen to anyone of any background. Victims can prevent the escalation of abuse by knowing the signs and behaviors of domestic violence.
Bullying can occur as domestic abuse through both physical and emotional acts. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Bullying occurs in ways such as accusing the victim of having an affair; telling the victim what to wear and how they should look; or making them feel small by criticizing. Physical bullying may include abandoning the victim in an unfamiliar place; keeping them from eating, sleeping, or getting medical care; locking the victim in or out of their house; pinching/slapping/kicking or pulling the victim’s hair. Although some of these acts may seem “small” and less abusive, they’re still abuse and a major sign of something that can escalate.
Another type of abuse is when an abuser attempts to control the victim. Between 94-99% of people who experience domestic abuse also experience economic abuse. The abuser may be keeping cash/credit cards from the victim; putting the victim on an allowance and making them explain every dollar spent; preventing the victim from working, or not allowing money for basic needs like food and clothes. This type of situation causes a victim to become financially reliant on their abuser making it even more difficult to escape. A similar form of control is when the abuser cuts the victim off from friends and family, creating a situation where the victim feels isolated and, therefore, further relies on their abuser. Acts like keeping close tabs on where the victim goes and who they’re with, making a victim ask permission to see friends and family, embarrassing victims in front of others and making the victims want to avoid seeing people are all abusive behaviors.
These are not inclusive of all possible signs; they are ones that when observed should send immediate red flags to victims or friends and family of a victim. If you or someone you know is experiencing an abusive relationship, we offer these tips:
Know your abuser’s red flags. Be aware of signs that your abuser is getting upset and may react in anger or violence. Create several believable reasons to use to leave the house if you sense tension is building.
Identify a few safe areas of the house. In the event that an argument is arising know where to go. Stay out of small, enclosed spaces without exits (like closets or bathrooms) or areas with weapons (like the kitchen). If possible, head for a room with an outside door, window or phone.
Contact a domestic violence or sexual assault program in your area. They can provide many services whether you choose to stay or leave the relationship, including emotional support, peer counseling, and safe emergency housing.
Be kind to yourself! Understand that this abuse is not your fault. Develop a positive outlook on yourself to counter the negative comments directed at you from the abuser. Make time for activities that you enjoy.
Share these tips with friends, families, and strangers who may be experiencing domestic abuse. Remember that things will get better over time and it’s never too late to leave a relationship.