Let’s start with the not so obvious issue of those women who come to me and say, “How do I know if I am a victim of domestic violence?” Yes, there are those out there who are uncertain of the fact if they are or are not a victim of domestic violence. To those I say, here are a few hints that will hopefully help you find the right answer to that question:
- The abuser maintains power and control over most aspects of your relationship.
- There may be excessive jealousy.
- You are verbally and/or emotionally abused.
- You can never do anything right enough or well enough to please the other party.
- He threatens to take the children away from you.
- He threatens (or actually does) harm to the family pet(s).
- There is abuse of drugs and/or alcohol. Oftentimes, you are told it is your fault he abuses these substances—you drive him to it.
- You are called “ugly,” “stupid,” “fat,” escalating to “bitch,” and then other slanderous words I just refuse to put here.
- Your spouse/intimate partner belittles you in front of others—”Bless her heart, you know, she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.”
- A lot of things are kept secret from you.
- You are checked on constantly—multiple cell calls, numerous texts, GPS tracking, keeping tally of the mileage on your vehicle, etc., etc., etc.
- You are told what to do and given a time limit in which to have it done.
- The finances are controlled, and you are not allowed to have much, if any spending money.
- You are held accountable to explain everywhere you have been and how you have spent your time.
- Things that hold sentimental value or are special to you are broken, destroyed or given away without your consent.
- You are grabbed by the arm or hair.
- You are backed into a corner, yelled at and not allowed to break free.
- You are coerced or forced into sexual situations you find either unacceptable or painful.
- Statements are made that feel like threats, such as, “Wouldn’t it be a shame if…” you “accidentally” fall down the staircase, a knife “slips” across your throat or a gun “accidentally” goes off when you are standing in front of it.
- You hear, “If you try to leave, I will find you and there will be hell to pay,” or “If you call the cops, I’ll kill you.”
As I have said in the past, it all starts with a word, phrase or glance. Every single time. That is 100% of the time, no exceptions. Domestic violence always begins with verbal or emotional abuse. That comes from the experts. And, as I have also said, it is not a matter of if it will escalate to physical violence, but rather when.
So, what do you do? You go to the Victim Support page above. You contact an agency in your area. You learn how to prepare a safety/exit plan and be ready in the event the time comes when it is no longer a choice, but a necessity, that you leave.
Carolyn is an advocate for sexual/domestic violence and assault awareness, also focusing on child sexual abuse. She is a Victim Support & Empowerment Coach, working with victims and survivors of molestation, sexual assault, domestic violence or spousal abuse, and bringing training to organizations seeking to help victims.
(FRIENDLY REMINDER: Our website is temporarily down due to reconstruction. We’ll announce the “new and improved” version when it is up and running. In the meantime, all the information is here on the blog site).
- Now WORDS can count as domestic violence as ’emotional abuse’ is recognised in legal shake-up (dailymail.co.uk)
- Domestic Violence – Verbal and Emotional Abuse Are Progressive (cshennecy.wordpress.com)
- 1 dead, 1 critical in Reno domestic violence (mysanantonio.com)