You’ve probably heard about domestic abuse several times on the news or read about it in a newspaper. But unfortunately, not many people understand how serious this problem is until it happens to them or to someone they know. This article will help you understand domestic abuse, how it happens, and how to spot the first signs and get help.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse definition is the act of controlling someone’s mind and emotions by hurting them verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually to get more power and control over the other person. Most of the time, domestic abuse happens between married/dating couples and within family households. In the latest domestic abuse statistics, 75% of victims are women. And according to the domestic abuse Australia statistics, around 2.5. million Australian adults have experienced domestic abuse during their childhood. (1)
Domestic abuse can occur to anyone at any time. Unfortunately, it isn’t always apparent as you might think. The abuser will never be fair towards the other person, and they’ll use guilt, shame, fear, and intimidation to gain control over their victim and wear them down.
What are the types of domestic abuse?
The types of domestic abuse are: (2)
- Emotional abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Financial or economic abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
The bottom line, all types of domestic abuse will never be acceptable, whether it’s done by a man, woman, or by a young or old person.
How to spot the signs of abuse?
Physical marks and injuries from physical abuse may be easy to identify. However, domestic abuse happens in many forms. Thus, many people, even the victims, find it hard to recognize and identify if they’re already being abused or not. If you feel abused or suspect that someone is in an abusive relationship, knowing how to recognize the signs may help you get help and support as early as possible.
Listed below are a few signs of domestic abuse that you should watch out for:
- Observe how they speak
If your partner or family member constantly belittles you, mocks you, or bluntly threatens to hurt you verbally, then that strongly signifies domestic abuse. Verbal domestic abuse can happen when:
- They constantly criticize and judge you
- They make fun of you in public
- They accuse you of cheating or having affairs despite not having proof
- They threaten to hurt or kill you or someone you know
- They yell at you and throw things during arguments
The abuser does these as their way of controlling a victim’s emotions and mind and making sure they feel small and worthless. Being constantly threatened, criticized, or yelled at does not represent a safe and healthy relationship. Thus, if you or someone you know is experiencing one of these signs, you can call out the abusive behavior or seek authorities and support groups for help, especially if the situation escalates. (2) (3)
- Watch how they control money and finances
Aside from verbal abuse, domestic abuse can also happen when the abuser tends to control your money and finances, to the point that you have no access to them. (3)
Financial abuse may include:
- Keeping credit cards or cash away from you
- Hinders you from taking any job you like to prevent you from earning money
- Cuts you off from your friends or family to prevent you from asking for financial support from them
- Steals money from you
- Won’t give you money even for your basic needs (e.g., food, clothes)
- Only gives you an allowance and asks for receipts or makes you explain for every expense
Most often, the abuser controls money or finances as their method of gaining power over the victim. Without finances, it will be harder for a victim to run away and seek help. Abusers would want to isolate their victims as much as possible, and gaining control over their finances and earning capacity is one of their tactics.
- Physical injuries and use of force
Being physically hurt and abused by someone is never acceptable in any relationship. Physical abuse can manifest in varying degrees, but it is best to identify them before it escalates into a full-blown physical altercation. It may start with a slight act of aggression like:
- Pulling your hair
- Treats you roughly
- Slaps or hits you whenever you talk back
- Throw or break things near you
- Attacks or threatens you with weapons or sharp objects
- Scares you by driving recklessly
- Hurts your children or anyone close to you
- Prevents you from eating or getting enough sleep
- Denies you access to medical care or treatment
- Pressures you to do sexual activities
- Won’t use birth control or condom when forcing you to have sex
Physical and sexual domestic abuse is considered the most dangerous type of abuse. Not only do these cause physical pain, bruises, or marks, but when the abuse continues, these could lead to killing. Thus, if any of these signs are happening in your relationship, or if you see visible physical marks on someone you know, you need to call for help immediately. (2) (3)
How To Get Help Against Domestic Abuse?
Regardless of what type of domestic abuse you or someone you know is experiencing, you need to get help immediately before the situation worsens. Here are some steps you can take if you or someone else is experiencing domestic abuse. (3) (4)
- Open up or talk to a trusted friend or family member about your relationship.
- Have a safety plan or emergency escape plan.
- Get medical care and ask for a medical certificate for evidence.
- Contact local organizations that aim to support and protect domestic abuse victims.
- File a report in the police station.
- When the situation escalates, you can request a court order or restraining order with the help of a lawyer to protect you or your loved ones from the abuser.
The Bottom Line
Domestic abuse is a serious case and the slightest signs must not be taken lightly. By knowing how to spot the signs of abuse, you can get help immediately or provide support and assistance to someone experiencing domestic abuse. Remember, you’re not alone, and help will always be available.