Are you a victim of Domestic Violence?

By Lydia M. Long, PhD.:Criminal Justice Conslt. and Adjunct Prof. at McMurry | June 1, 2013

Domestic violence is about one person getting and keeping power and control over another person in an intimate relationship. It is a pattern of behavior in which one intimate partner uses physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation and emotional, sexual or economic abuse to control and change the behavior of the other partner. The abusive person might be your current or former spouse, live-in lover or dating partner. Domestic violence happens to people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and religions. It occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships. A person’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation does not determine whether s/he can be a victim of domestic violence or an abuser. Economic or professional status does not affect whether someone can commit domestic violence or be the victim of domestic violence. Here are some examples of the different forms of abuse: {{more}} PHYSICAL ABUSE: Grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hitting, hair pulling, biting, etc.; denying medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use. SEXUAL ABUSE: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact without consent, e.g., marital rape; forcing sex after physical beating; attacks on sexual parts of the body or treating another in a sexually demeaning manner; forcing the victim to perform sexual acts on another person, on the Internet or forcing the victim to pose for sexually explicit photographs against his/her will. ECONOMIC ABUSE: Making or attempting to make a person financially dependent, e.g., maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding access to money, forbidding attendance at school or employment. EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Undermining a person’s sense of self-worth, e.g., constant criticism, belittling one’s abilities, name calling, damaging a partner’s relationship with the children. An abuser may also use his/her or your HIV-positive status or sexual orientation as a means to control you. For example, an abuser may threaten to reveal your HIV status or your sexual identity. PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE: Causing fear by intimidation, threatening physical harm to himself/herself, you, your family member, or your children; destruction of pets and property; stalking you or cyberstalking you, playing “mind games” to make you doubt your sanity; forcing isolation from friends, family, school and/or work. SEXUAL COERCION AND REPRODUCTIVE CONTROL: When a partner sabotages your birth control efforts by demanding unprotected sex, lying about “pulling out,” hiding or destroying birth control , preventing you from getting an abortion or forcing you to get an abortion. The, Am I Being Abused? Checklist has more specific examples of what kinds of behavior can be considered abuse. Does your partner… ____ Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family? ____ Put down your accomplishments or goals? ____ Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? ____ Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance? ____ Tell you that you are nothing without them? ____ Treat you roughly – grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you? ____ Call, text, or email you several times a day or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be? ____ Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you? ____ Blame you for how they feel or act? ____ Pressure you sexually for things you don’t want to do? ____ Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship? ____ Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with your friends or family? ____ Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson”? Do you… ____ Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act? ____ Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior? ____ Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself? ____ Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry? ____ Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want? ____ Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke-up? If any of these are happening in your relationship, talk to someone. Without some help, the abuse will continue. Who does domestic violence happen to? About 95% of victims of domestic violence are women. Over 50% of all women will experience physical violence in an intimate relationship, and for 24% – 30% of those women, the battering will be regular and on-going. Every 15 seconds the crime of battering occurs.* Most abusers are men. They may seem gentle, mean, quiet or loud, and may be big or small. There is some evidence that shows that boys who grow up with domestic violence in the home may become abusers as adults; however, many abusers are from non-violent homes, and many boys from violent homes do not grow up to be abusive. What are the laws against domestic violence and can they help me? The law defines domestic violence in very specific ways. Every state and U.S. territory has laws that allow its courts to issue protection orders. The law is a useful and important tool for increasing safety and independence, but it is not the only tool. In addition to help from a lawyer, you might benefit from safety planning, medical care, counseling, economic assistance and planning, job placement, childcare, eldercare or pet care assistance, or many other types of practical help and advice. You can seek assistance from advocates, shelters, support groups, the National Domestic Violence Hotline and locally, Noah Project-Abilene. Crisis Hotline: 325.676.7107 or 1.800.444.3551 Their Shelter is at 5802 Texas Avenue, Abilene, TX 79605. * Information in this article was obtained from Lydia Long, PhD. is an Adjunct Criminal Justice Professor at McMurry University, Abilene, TX. She can be contacted at