By Sarah Fader
Updated January 02, 2019
Domestic violence is one of the most silent crimes in our country. We live in a country where violence is not tolerated, and yet many people do not report violence that goes on within their homes, between spouses. There are many reasons for this, which we will go into in this article. We will explain why domestic violence goes unreported, what constitutes domestic violence, and where you can go for support if you are the victim of domestic violence.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is violence within a household. When we imagine domestic violence, we think of a husband and a wife, but it can also happen with roommates, same-sex couples, and anyone else living in a home.
Also, domestic violence is more than just physical. It's abuse that can come in many forms, which we will break down.
Forms Of Violence
Physical abuse is any physical activity done to harm another person intentionally. Hitting, kicking, scratching, and anything else to cause pain are a few examples. Physical abuse is a tool used to control a person. If they don't listen to you, they will get hit. Violence has been a way to control people since the dawn of humankind, and it continues to this day.
Those who suffer from physical abuse may fear to leave because they don't want the partner to find them and hurt them more, or they may fear someone else being hurt.
Also, pregnancy can cause physical abuse. It can also end it… temporarily. The abuser may not want the child to be hurt, but once the child is born, physical abuse may continue. Also, it's likely the child may be physically abused as well.
Sometimes, the abuser doesn't have to lay a finger on the victim to abuse them. In fact, emotional abuse can be more damaging to the person. Bruises fade, but mental scars take longer to heal. Emotional abuse can involve many tactics, including:
- Threats. The spouse threatens them if things don't go their way. They may not act on those threats, but the fear given by the spouse is enough to cause emotional damage. The threats may not even be on the spouse, but instead on the children or pets.
- They may stonewall the other partner. Stonewalling is when someone refuses to talk to the other person. It can be a way for the person to create guilt towards the other party and make them do anything to communicate again.
- Emotional abuse may involve excluding them from events and talking about them to other friends. Anything to make the partner feel like they're being shamed or left out is a sign of domestic violence and emotional abuse.
- Gaslighting may be involved. Gaslighting is when someone lies, misdirects, contradicts, and does anything else in an attempt to make a person question their memories or sanity. This technique has been discussed in the mainstream recently.
- Unwarranted criticism may be another form of emotional abuse. If the partner is always being put down for their appearance or actions, it can affect their self-image and self-esteem.
Sexual abuse involves unwarranted sexual advantages towards a partner. Just because you're married to someone doesn't mean you're obligated to have sex with them. Sexual abuse does not include rape; it can include any sexual advanced that make you feel uncomfortable. From sexual comments to touching in places where you don't feel comfortable.
If you're having sex with your partner and they do a sex move you don't like, tell them. If they stop, then great. If not, that's another sign of sexual abuse.
Economic abuse is when one person has control of all the assets. For example, they may prevent their partner from spending any of their money or give them an allowance despite the partner making money of their own. Economic abuse may involve the abuser claiming most or all of the property as their own, and leaving none to the partner. This is a way to control them. If they have a divorce, then the partner may not get anything. Money is a great way to control people, and by acting like their boss instead of a spouse, you can have control over your spouse.
Why It's So Hard To Leave
To an outsider, it's difficult to understand the mentality of domestic violence victims. If their partner is abusing someone, why don't they leave? Unless you've been in that situation, you probably don't understand. Everyone has different reasons, but here are a few.
If someone is being abused, they may fear what will happen if they leave their partner. In many cases, the law is unable to prosecute them due to a lack of evidence, and restraining orders aren't magic. Many people who suffer from abuse fear to leave due to them being stalked or possibly murdered by their ex. They may fear for their children if they have them.
Sometimes, the abuser is the one who makes more money or makes all the money. If the person leaves, then their revenue source will be damaged or lost altogether. If they have no one to support them, such as friends or family, it can be an even more difficult situation.
Some people do not want to leave because of shame. They do not want to admit that they were abused and they took the abuse for a long time. While our society is mostly sympathetic towards victims, there are still people who shame and victim blame, making it difficult for people who want to leave.
Shame is especially prominent when it comes to male victims of abuse. Male victims are rarer than female victims. There are biological reasons for this, but also societal reasons. Some men don't like admitting they were abused because it's not masculine, and they may imagine them being shamed by other people. Male abuse victims are not recognized, and it's difficult to find shelters and support for them.
Know that there is no shame in escaping your domestic violence situation.
Some people who are victims have only the abuser's friends or family as associates. If they end their relationship with the abuser, they worry that everyone they associate with will abandon them. Being isolated and not fulfilling social needs is a common fear, and it's one reason why many victims do not leave their spouses.
For those who want to leave, or have left but need support, they can look into
Domestic Violence Support Groups
If you've been abused, there are hotlines, shelters, and other outlets that can help you recover. These include:
Sexual Abuse Hotline
If you've suffered from sexual abuse, this hotline can help you to heal. By calling 800.656.HOPE (4673,) you will be connected to a professional who can help you cope. No matter what the sexual abuse is, giving them a call can give you the strength to move on from your trauma, or end the relationship. No one should suffer from sexual abuse, and remember that you're not obligated to have sex with anyone if you don't want to.
Domestic Violence Hotline
For those who have been physically abused, calling the domestic violence hotline can help you cope. Their number is 1-800-799-7233.
Domestic Violence Shelter
If you've been a victim of domestic violence, and you have nowhere to turn to, a shelter can help you. Many of them are nonprofit or paid for by the government, and they can be a place where you can seek support, shelter, and heal from your domestic violence situation. If you fear leaving your partner, turning to the domestic violence shelter may be the solution you need. Look and see if there's a shelter near you.
Odds are, there are numbers, shelters, and other methods of support around your town. Doing a quick search can help you find the support you need, especially if you're having trouble leaving your partner.
Even after you've escaped your domestic violence situation, there are many mental side effects you need to deal with. You may have trust issues with people because of what happened. You may have PTSD, or feel depressed or anxious. You may wonder how you can prevent domestic violence from happening again, and when to spot the signs.
Luckily, there is counseling available for people like you. They can teach you coping skills, learn how to trust people again, and teach you how to move on with life. They are patient and know it can take a long time to heal. There is no rush to get into another relationship or move on with your partners. They will help you to heal and cope healthily.
Domestic violence is a serious problem, and if you're a victim, you need to get out of your situation right now. There are tools available to help you and make the process a lot easier.