Important Information About Domestic Violence

Updated March 20, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include sexual assault & violence which could potentially be triggering.

Domestic violence is officially defined as "a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship." By nature, this pattern of behavior can be harmful and destructive to many areas of a person’s life. Many perpetrators of domestic abuse thrive on the control and power that they have coupled with the innate fear that they instill within their victims. Violent abusers furthermore can thrive on victims' silence and apprehension of seeking outside help. There are many instances of domestic violence perpetrators putting on airs of grace and kindness in public, only to revert to their true, violent ways once doors are closed. 

Although many people have survived domestic violence, it is still a prevalent plight in many homes and many families. Society must address and handle this serious issue accordingly. However, before this can happen, a clear, thorough, and detailed understanding of domestic violence can be paramount.

Are You A Survivor Of Domestic Violence?

An Extensive Overview Of Domestic Violence

There are multiple forms of domestic violence. While some are more obvious than others, each is damaging and can be life-threatening. Information from The National Domestic Violence Hotline affirms that domestic violence is often carried out via physical and sexual means. However, there are several other variations of abuse, such as emotional abuse, online abuse, financial abuse, and even reproductive abuse which slightly varies from sexual mistreatment.

Physical Abuse

As one of the most blatant and apparent forms of domestic violence, physical abuse happens when someone mistreats their partner by punching, slapping, choking, slapping, or otherwise making other variations of unwanted and forceful physical contact. Abandonment, intentionally dangerous driving, and forcing one's partner to partake in drug or alcohol use also fall into the category of physical abuse.

Many perpetrators of physical abuse use this behavior as a means of controlling their partner or fostering feelings of intimidation for the sake of control. Anyone can be abusive and regardless of whom the abuse stems from, it is equally wrong and should not be tolerated.

Sexual Abuse

Like physical abuse, sexual abuse is very common when domestic violence occurs. This form of abuse can manifest in the form of rape, sexual insults, pressuring one's partner to partake in sexual acts that the latter is uncomfortable with, intentionally trying to transfer a sexually transmitted infection, or forcibly impregnating (or trying to impregnate) one without consent.

While the acts above are each readily apparent forms of mistreatment, there are further variations of sexual abuse that are not as obvious. These include bullying one's partner into viewing sex as an obligation, threatening to cheat or sleep with someone else, or intimidating a partner after they have already stated that they do not wish to partake in sex or sexual acts.

Emotional Abuse

Although emotional abuse does not leave physical scars and marks like that of physical and sexual abuse, it can still be an equally malevolent force that is carried out by perpetrators of domestic violence. Emotional abuse can moreover leave many psychological scars and damage the self-esteem of the survivor. 

This form of abuse takes place in the form of name-calling, possessiveness, humiliation, property damage, bullying, and cheating. It can also involve telling one's partner that they are lucky to be in a relationship with them or that they'll never find anyone else who loves them as much. Emotional abuse furthermore occurs when someone is excessively monitored, trapped in their home, controlled, or wrongly blamed for outrageous acts or behaviors. Many perpetrators of the aforesaid behaviors have certain behavioral or emotional issues of their own that need attention. Narcissism, psychopathy, or even sociopathy could be the root causes of emotional abuse.

Online Abuse

Online abuse occurs when one's partner employs technology as a means of mistreating their significant other. Sending mean emails or threatening texts, carrying out pranks on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram, or using GPS to monitor one's partner fall into the category of online abuse. Some people who abuse their partners may disguise their online abuse as a form of caring for their partner, but people who truly care for their loved ones do not mistreat them. Finally, perpetrators of domestic violence may use technology to abuse their partners by demanding their account login credentials, sending excessive text messages, or leaving immoderate voice messages.

Financial Abuse

As the name suggests, financial abuse occurs when one partner controls, misuses, or otherwise abuses the earnings of their partner. In many instances, financial abuse is illegal, and depending on the circumstances; the victim may have a strong standing to go after the person perpetuating the abuse legally.

Reproductive Abuse

Reproductive abuse has some similarities to sexual abuse. However, this variation of abuse is somewhat deeper than sexual abuse. Instances of reproductive abuse comprise dishonesty about being on the pill/having a vasectomy, poking holes in condoms, meddling with birth control, refusing to practice safe sex, forcing a partner to get an abortion, preventing a partner from getting an abortion, forcing impregnation, and bullying a partner who wants to use birth control. Each of the preceding forms of abuse can be incredibly dangerous. 

Warning Signs Of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence often develops over time and there are typically warning signs that evidence that a partner is abusive. Some of the most common warning signs of impending domestic violence include mean-spirited insults, humiliation, destruction of property, throwing objects, threatening words or body language, excessive calls, texts, or voicemails, and isolation.

Furthermore, if one's friends and family do not like a potential partner, this could also serve as a potential warning sign that they are not what they appear to be on the surface. Family and friends can be wrong or have their reasons for disliking one's significant other; however, if one or more of the preceding warning signs occur, the person at hand may decide to tread more carefully. 

Why Do People Perpetrate Domestic Violence?

Countless people have wondered about the causes of abuse and what prompts certain individuals to mistreat the ones whom they are supposed to love and care for. Research has shown that one of the most common traits of people who abuse others is exposure to some type of abuse themselves, whether they witnessed or experienced it. They may have been abused as a child, or one (or both) of their parents may have been on the receiving end of abuse. Around one-third of children who are abused will grow up to abuse someone else. However, every person is different. 

Regardless of the reason, abuse is never tolerable or acceptable. Some perpetrators of domestic violence may cite past childhood traumas or other negative experiences to excuse their behavior. The majority of people have been through tough times, but that doesn’t make the mistreatment of other people okay. 

Regardless of the provided reason, any individual who is experiencing domestic violence is encouraged by experts to leave the relationship. Those who remain in an abusive relationship are at risk of physical and emotional harm and could even be in danger of losing their life. Heeding the warning signs of abuse can be critical, and you may be able to save yourself or a loved one from an abusive relationship before it begins by staying aware from the start. You deserve to feel safe in all of your relationships. While you don’t need to leave right away, it can be important to have a plan for when you’re ready. 

Are You A Survivor Of Domestic Violence?

Online Counseling With BetterHelp

Relationships can be difficult and complex. There are so many unique factors and dynamics which can come into play. However, domestic violence is never acceptable. Anyone who is experiencing abuse or mistreatment from their partner is heavily urged to exit the relationship. However, in some cases, this can be much easier said than done. If you’re experiencing domestic violence or have been in a violent relationship in the past, there are online domestic violence resources that can offer support. It is also a good option to speak with a therapist that may help you figure out your next steps. You might imagine how domestic violence counseling can help you, but it can do so much more. Compassionate therapists can help you take the first step toward healing from your overwhelming challenge through domestic violence counseling. BetterHelp, an online counseling platform, has licensed therapists who are experienced in a variety of areas. 

The Efficacy Of Online Counseling 

Those who have been exposed to or experienced domestic abuse can benefit from online therapeutic interventions. One study assessed the efficacy of an internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program for survivors of intimate partner violence. Researchers found that there were large and statistically significant effects on measures of PTSD, depression, and anxiety—as well as small effects on measures of quality of life. These results show the effectiveness of online therapy in helping those who have experienced violence in their relationships. 

The Takeaway

Domestic violence can come in many unique forms and looks different from relationship to relationship. Understanding the signs of abuse can help you and your loved ones recognize when it may be time to seek help. Although it can be vital to leave a relationship that is abusive, this may not always be so simple to do. Healing is possible with the right support and tools. 

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