What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic violence is the result of a person’s feeling of entitlement to have power and control over their partner or family member and their choice to use abusive behaviors to gain and maintain that power and control. These behaviors may be directed at the victim or at other family members, children or pets in an attempt to control the victim.
Abuse may be referred to as intimate partner violence when it occurs between intimate partners. Because domestic violence is all about control, it is common for the abuse to continue even after an intimate relationship has ended. When a survivor decides to end the relationship, the abuser may escalate abusive behaviors and use increased violence to regain control of the survivor. If children are involved, the abuser may attempt to use the child or custody process as a way to continue controlling the survivor.
The abuse can take many forms such as:
- and/or financial
The abuse leaves the partner feeling scared, confused, dependent and insecure. In most cases, the abuse escalates unless there is some kind of intervention because the abuser maintains control over the partner.
Some examples of the abusive behavior are: name-calling or put-downs, withholding of money, actual or threatened physical harm, sexual assault, following and checking up on the partner, blaming the partner for the behavior, minimizing the behavior or denying the behavior occurred.
The abuser may exhibit the behaviors once in a while or all the time.
Although the abuser’s partner is the primary target, violence is often directed toward children as well, and sometimes toward family members, friends, and even bystanders in attempts to control their partner.
17% of Children of all ages
Have been exposed to physical intimate partner violence in their lifetime, or about 13.6 million children.
Source: University of New Hampshire
What does a healthy relationship look like? How can I tell if I’m experiencing domestic violence? We get these questions all the time. In response, we have put together a list of characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships. If you struggle with issues in the “unhealthy column”, you may be in an unhealthy relationship. Don’t hesitate to call us at 860.763.4542. We can provide more information, resources or just be there to listen.
Healthy partners respect each other for their abilities, qualities, and/or achievements. They value each other and admire the things that make each other unique and different. They honor each other’s boundaries, are willing to compromise, and show consideration.
Healthy partners are able to believe their partner is reliable, good, honest, and safe. They are predictable, reliable, up front with each other, show faith with each other, and keep true to their word. They are secure their partner has their best interest and that they can be open with each other.
In a healthy relationship, a partner knows their partner is being open and truthful with them.
Partners speak openly and honestly. They work to clarify misunderstandings, they tell each other about their thoughts, feelings, needs, wants, or wishes. They can comfortably share things they need to or want to. Both partners feel heard after discussions.
Partners keep all their same interests, hobbies, and friends when entering into a relationship. They feel comfortable being who they are, and they are respectful to differences that make their partner unique from them. Partners are supportive of each other and respect all sides of each other.
Healthy partners can get angry at each other, but they don’t hurt each other with it. They know how to talk it out, how to cope, when to walk away or take deep breaths, and how to communicate feelings appropriately.
Partners may argue, but they keep the argument focused on the problem and fixing it. Both partners are heard and share their side of the story. If a partner gets heated, they take a break.
A healthy partner takes the time to really get to know and understand their partner. They do not assume or make judgments, but rather listen, express interest, and show empathy. They want to know their partner’s thoughts and views.
A healthy partner works to be healthy for their partner. They expect a partner to treat them well, but they also show respect and treat their partner as they want to be treated. They view each other as equals.
A healthy relationship may have the occasional hard time, but more often it feels relaxed and easy. Partners feel able to be themselves and express themselves. They feel free, happy, and safe.
An unhealthy relationship has a lack of respect. A partner may ignore the other partner’s boundaries. They might act in ways that are dishonorable or inconsiderate. They might use hurtful or offensive word choices when communicating with one partner. They may show a lack of interest or regard for the other’s abilities, qualities, or achievements.
An unhealthy relationship may have a lack of trust. This could be due to one partner acting unpredictable and/or in ways that are not safe. One person or both partners may not be reliable or true to their word. They may keep secrets, withhold important information, or show signs of not having faith in the other.
An unhealthy relationship has lies and/or harmful secrets.
In a relationship with communication issues, one partner might feel unheard, uncomfortable bringing up problems, or afraid to speak up and share their thoughts if the other partner is disrespectful or hurtful during discussions.
In unhealthy relationships, one partner tries to control the other by telling them who to be, how to act, who to talk to or not talk to, what to do, and what to wear, eat, or like. A partner may feel like they lose parts of themselves or have to hide parts of themselves. They may feel they are giving up all of themselves.
In an unhealthy relationship, one partner may physically harm and/or use threats, criticism, name calling, or verbal put downs to assert control over their partner. They may gas light and do not take responsibility for their actions.
Arguments in an unhealthy relationship may have insults, hurtful comments, or yelling. They may include a whole list of things “wrong” with the other person instead of the real problem or solutions.
An unhealthy partner doesn’t take the time to see their partner’s side of things. They assume and make judgments without really listening or giving their partner a chance to express themselves. How they see things is all that matters.
An unhealthy partner sees themselves as being worthy of good treatment, but doesn’t show it towards their partner. They see themselves as deserving more and better. They see themselves as superior to their partner.
In an unhealthy relationship a partner will feel scared, nervous, and unsafe around their partner. They may worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. They might be completely preoccupied with keeping the other happy.
What Can I Do For Myself?
Abuse happens in all types of relationships. If you are being abused, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. There are some steps you can take to increase your safety and/or make leaving the abusive situation easier. If you need to talk to someone about it, help is available. Our 24-hour hotline number is 860.763.4542.