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Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors to maintain power and control over an intimate partner or family member. Power and control are the center of domestic violence, everything the abusive person does is to maintain that sense of power and control over the other person in the relationship. The Power and Control wheel below shows different ways that abusers create power over and control the lives of the person they are abusing.
Who can be a victim?
Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, sex, culture, religion, social status, education, employment, or marital status. Both men and women can be victims. There are many different relationships that can turn abusive and be considered to be domestic violence. Those relationships can include:
Are there different types of domestic violence?
There are many types of domestic violence, but many people focus on physical violence alone. However, many victims report that the emotional and mental abuse they suffer is far worse than anything that has physically been done to them. The scars of the psychological abuse often last much longer and are harder for the victim to overcome. It is also important to remember that a person’s life can still be at risk even if they have never been physically abused by their abuser.
Types of Domestic Violence
Inflicting or attempting to inflict physical injury
examples: grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hitting, biting, arm-twisting, kicking, punching, hitting with blunt objects, stabbing, shooting; Withholding access to resources necessary to maintain health example: medication, medical care, wheelchair, food or fluids, sleep, hygienic assistance Forcing alcohol or other drug use.
Attempting to undermine the victim' sexuality
examples: treating him/her in a sexually derogatory manner, criticizing sexual performance and desirability, accusations of infidelity.
Instilling or attempting to instill fear
examples: intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, victim, and/or others, threatening to harm and/or kidnap children; Isolating or attempting to isolate victim from friends, family, school, and/or work.
Undermining or attempting to undermine victim sense of worth
examples: constant criticism, belittling victim's abilities and competency, manipulating victim's feelings and emotions to induce guilt, repeatedly making and breaking promises.
Making or attempting to make the victim financially dependent
examples: maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding money and/or access to money, forbidding attendance at school or employment, on-the-job harassment, requiring accountability and justification for all money spent.
Using scripture and/or religious beliefs in order to manipulate or control
examples: deny their partners the freedom to practice the religion of their choice, make oppressive demands based on their interpretation of scriptures or other religious teachings (e.g., “the scriptures say that you need to obey me because you are my wife”), sense of marital entitlement causes them to justify their sexual demands, including forced sex (i.e., marital rape).
**Any of these types of domestic violence may be going on at one time in the relationship. Once a partner uses any one of these types of abuse, they are more likely to use it again in the future.
What are the effects of domestic violence on victims?
Every person’s reaction to domestic violence is unique. Many factors come into play when looking at the possible effects on a victim, such as physical health, mental health, normal reactions to stress, frequency of abuse, length of abuse, and more. Here are some of the possible effects of domestic violence:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event. Some common symptoms associated with PTSD are flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping. But with time and intensive counseling, such traumatic reactions usually get better.
Depression is more than common feelings of temporary sadness. Symptoms can include prolonged sadness, feelings of hopelessness, unexplained crying, changes in appetite with significant weight loss or gain, loss of energy or loss of interest and pleasure in activities previously enjoyed. Depression can affect a person’s outlook, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness. This, in turn, can impact his or her thought process and ability to make decisions. In extreme cases of depression, people may even experience suicidal thoughts and/or attempts. Depression remains the most common symptom exhibited by survivors of domestic violence.
Dissociation usually refers to feeling like one has “checked out” or is not present. In some instances of dissociation, people may find themselves daydreaming. But in situations where dissociation is chronic and more complex it may impair an individual's ability to function in the “real” world, such as not being able to focus on work related duties or being able to concentrate on schoolwork.
Changes in how you view trust
Loss of control
Sense of vulnerability
Self-blame/guilt for "allowing" the abuse to happen