It doesn’t matter how old you are. Your race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation are irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what your relationship status is, whether you’re dating, living together or married. Your educational, financial, and social status make no difference—anyone can be a victim of domestic violence or even a perpetrator.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence usually starts as psychological or emotional abuse carried out by someone trying to assert dominance or take control in a relationship. This abuse often evolves into physical violence. When it does, it’s officially classified as domestic violence.
As people and relationships differ, what domestic violence looks like varies as well. However, there is one common thread in all domestic violence cases: the partner perpetrating the abuse will have several different methods of taking control or showing power over their partner.
The physical component may include shoving, throwing, scratching, biting, punching, kicking, or strangling among other abuses. Domestic violence doesn’t always cause visible damage or leave marks and scars either. Many abusers become adept at causing harm where it won’t leave marks or be noticed. Sexual assault can also be a form of domestic violence. The abusive partner can force the victimized partner into having sexual relations or into doing sexual things they are not comfortable doing.
Statistics About Domestic Violence
According to the CDC, every year 10 million people are physically abused by an intimate partner. This equates to 20 people experiencing abuse every minute or one person every 9 seconds.
In the same report, the CDC reports that women are far more likely to be victims of domestic violence, though men are not immune. In their lifetime, one out of every three women along with one out of four men are victims of domestic violence from an intimate partner. When considering severe physical violence, one in four women and one in seven men are victims.
A weapon of some sort is involved in 19 percent of domestic violence cases, and the presence of a gun increases the risk of homicide in those cases by 500 percent.
In fact, in a 2014 article, the Huffington Post calculated that between 2001 and 2012, nearly 2,000 women were murdered by their intimate partner. This is almost double the number of American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the same period. An intimate partner perpetrates 15 percent of all violent crime according to this report from the Department of Justice.
How to Tell If a Friend Is Suffering from Domestic Violence
Many people who experience abuse or domestic violence don’t reach out to loved ones for help. There are a variety of reasons for this, and for each victim it’s personal. Rest assured this is not an indication that they don’t trust you or need your help.
Luckily, even if a victim choses to keep silent about the abuse they’re experiencing, there are often telltale signs to watch for. Some of these signs may be subtle, while others are far more obvious.
-Isolation. Victims of abuse tend to isolate from their friends, their families, and their support systems due to their abuser’s control.
-Frequent injuries. If your friend seems to be having a lot of “accidents” lately and is showing up to work, school, or other events with bruising, this constitutes cause for concern.
-Changes in attire. You might notice a change in the clothing your friend chooses. Are they wearing long sleeves when it’s warm outside? Are they wearing sunglasses indoors? This can be indicative of attempts to hide bruises or scarring.
-Becoming less social. Is your friend suddenly missing a lot of work, school, or social events? Do they have plausible excuses for missing these events, or do they seem to avoid answering people’s questions? If there are other signs of abuse, this could be a sign of allowing time for injuries to heal.
-Sudden changes in personality. If your usually outgoing friend suddenly becomes quiet and withdrawn, it will be clear that something is amiss. Take notice of this.
-Sudden changes in confidence. Has your confident friend become highly self-critical? Do they seem to have less self-esteem? This may be a sign of domestic violence.
-Nervousness/Anxiety. Perhaps your friend suddenly appears to be walking on eggshells. Are they always nervous or skittish? Do they seem to be anxious all the time or only when a specific person is present? Are anxiety and fear common emotions experienced by your friend or loved one when they always seemed self-assured before? When hearing a particular person’s name, does your friend seem to tense up or become anxious?
-Excessive self-criticism. Maybe your friend seems to think everything is their fault and have been continually putting themselves down.
-Avoiding home. Does your friend drag things out to avoid having to go home from school or work? When doing so, do they seem to be a seeking a way to verify their whereabouts for someone?
Domestic violence can make a person feel helpless and powerless in their situation, or they might even feel ashamed about what is happening. Sometimes these feelings can lead to depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts.
Abusers obviously don’t want other people to notice what’s going on. They don’t want to be caught, and one way they avoid this is by keeping their victim out of situations where their actions could be exposed. People who are abused tend to become isolated, and this is a clear marker that they could be experiencing domestic violence.
- Does your friend’s entire world suddenly seem to revolve around one person?
- Is your friend ducking out of social obligations to spend more time than usual with their partner?
- Does your friend have extreme limitations when it comes to how much money they have and how they are allowed to spend it?
- Are they restricted to certain stores, restaurants, and other gathering places?
- Is your friend not able to wear clothing they once wore due to the demands of their partner?
- Does it seem like your friend is being manipulated by their partner?
Perhaps your friend appears like they’re consistently being monitored or is required to “check in” frequently with their partner. Maybe they appear nervous when speaking of their partner or they act very differently when their partner is present. These are all classic signs of abuse.
If your loved one is being abused, it’s unlikely they’ll outright tell you about what they’re going through. They may be scared, ashamed, or might even blame themselves for their situation.
If you notice any of the signs above, or your friend just seems “off,” you should attempt to open a line of communication by sharing your concerns in a safe environment while providing acceptance and support for their needs. If they’ll open up to you, you can help them come up with a safety plan to get them out of their situation, and to get in touch with systems and resources designed specifically for cases of domestic violence.
If they won’t talk to you, try not to force the issue, but make clear that you’re there if you’re needed—and be there. You can also leave them with information about resources that may be able to help them, “just in case.”
Am I A Victim of Domestic Violence?
Sometimes, we can be so wrapped up in a situation that we don’t even realize what’s going on around us. Especially in cases of domestic violence, we can feel vulnerable and alone, like we’re in a terrifying world of our own that no one else could even image, that no one could ever understand. A place we’re trapped.
If a friend or loved one has expressed concern about you and your relationship, or you have asked yourself, “am I a victim of domestic violence?” then we are here to help.
Read through the following circumstances and ask yourself if these situations are ones you are experiencing. If you answer “yes” to many of these scenarios, it’s very possible you are in an abusive relationship or that you are or soon will be a victim of domestic violence.
The things your partner says and does can have a deep and lasting impact on you. Not everything experienced in domestic abuse will leave physical bruises and scars. Much of the damage done will be emotional and psychological. Your inner thoughts and feelings will start to change, and you might begin to feel bad about yourself.
Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Do you often feel afraid of your partner?
- Do you feel nothing is ever good enough, that you can’t do anything right?
- Do you often wonder if you are actually the one who’s crazy?
- Do you often steer away from specific conversation topics in an effort not to upset your partner?
- Do you feel helpless or emotionally numb?
- Do you think something you have done has made you deserve pain and maltreatment?
- Have you lost interest in your hobbies or friends?
Many of the things your partner does will not be physical but will instead be behavioral issues that can cause you emotional harm.
Does your partner exhibit any of the following behaviors?
- Does your partner often blame you for their behavior?
- Do they put you down and criticize everything you do?
- Does your partner ridicule your accomplishments and opinions?
- Do you feel embarrassed for your friends and family to see the way your partner treats you?
- Does your partner treat you as though you are an object or a piece of property?
- Does your partner yell at you or humiliate you?
Abuse and domestic violence are almost always about control. The abuse is just one way your partner establishes dominance over you.
Does your partner show any of the following controlling attitudes?
- Is your access to the car, the phone, or to money restricted?
- Do you have control over the places you go and what you do there?
- Can you enjoy time out without being constantly checked up on?
- Is your partner extremely possessive or jealous?
- Are you prevented from spending time with your friends or family?
These controlling behaviors and emotional threats can quickly turn to physical violence. Your partner will often exhibit some further signs that should be extreme cause for concern…
- Does your partner threaten to harm your children, pets, or loved ones?
- Does your partner have an uncontrollable temper?
- Does your partner say they’ll harm themselves if you leave them?
- Does your partner damage or destroy your personal property?
- Does your partner ever threaten to physically hurt you or even kill you?
- Does your partner ever force you to have sex?
When going through the above questions, if you answered “yes” more often than you answered “no,” it’s possible that you are in a relationship that is abusive already or will very likely become abusive.
One of the most obvious signs of a potentially abusive relationship is fear. If you are afraid of your partner, this is unacceptable. If you’re constantly afraid of doing something to set them off, worried about saying the wrong thing and angering them, or if you are always treading on eggshells when your partner is around, there’s a strong chance you are in an unhealthy relationship at the least.
If your partner’s behavior causes you to feel depressed, helpless, desperate and alone, it may be time to start looking more in-depth at your relationship and its dynamic. These are not feelings that are experienced in a healthy relationship.
If you’re in a relationship where the above behaviors and feelings are commonplace, or things have already escalated to physical violence, it’s time to start looking for a way out. Speak with a trusted friend or family member about your situation or reach out to local resources for victims of domestic violence.
The first step is to accept and acknowledge that your relationship is unsound and abusive, after that it’s just one foot in front of the other.
If you have been arrested please contact the leading Colorado Springs Domestic Violence Attorneys at Anaya Mckedy.