By: Dr. Behrouz Hashim
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is abuse by a care-giver, a parent, a spouse or an intimate partner. It can take many forms. Here are some types of abuse:
Emotional abuse includes threats, constant criticism and putdowns
Physical abuse is the use of physical force.
Sexual abuse means any forced sexual activity.
Controlling access to money and controlling activities are other abusive behaviors’.
Commonly referenced behaviors included within the broad category of violence include:
- Elder abuse
- Child abuse
- Domestic violence
- Spouse abuse
- Partner abuse
- Woman battering
- Acid burns, kerosene burns
- Dating violence
- Same sex violence
- Sexual assault
- Date rape
- Marital rape
- Acquaintance rape
Are You Being Abused? Questions To Ask Yourself
- Are you ever afraid of your partner?
- Has your partner ever actually hurt or threatened to hurt you physically or someone you care about?
- Does your partner ever force you to engage in sexual activities that make you uncomfortable?
- Do you constantly worry about your partner’s moods and change your behavior to deal with them?
- Does your partner try to control where you go, what you do and who you see?
- Does your partner constantly accuse you of having affairs?
- Have you stopped seeing family or friends to avoid your partner’s jealousy or anger?
- Does your partner control your finances?
- Does he/she threaten to kill him/herself if you leave?
- Does your partner claim his/her temper is out of control due to alcohol, drugs or because he/she had an abusive childhood?
If you answer “yes” to some or all of these questions, you could be suffering abuse. Remember you are not to blame and you need not face domestic violence alone.
Triggers Of Violence
Jealousy Of Partner
Men who batter almost routinely accuse their partners of having other sexual relationships. Slight evidence is sufficient to fire their imagination. A van parked across the street was proof enough for one’s clients partner. Another accused his wife of fellatio with another whenever she suffered flu symptoms. Such intensely irrational jealousy may arise from man’s own insecurities and projection. He may be having sexual liaisons outside their primary bond himself. Objectification of women is a third contributing factor.
Control And Isolation Of Partner
Perpetrators of domestic violence will go to extreme lengths to isolate and control their partners. One woman was not permitted to go into her backyard because her husband called every hour or two. If she did not answer on the first ring, she might have been beaten. Nor could she talk to anyone else on phone, because her husband could hear a busy signal. Counselors repeatedly hear about this kind of sever isolation. While the male who batters tends to be a loner, he enjoys the company of his own family and friends. Neither is permitted to her.
A most trivial happening such as failure to balance a cheque- book or burning the toast can trigger a beating. In other cases, there is no apparent precipitating event. Many women have been pulled from bed while sleeping soundly and beaten. A frequent response of the victim is to attempt to be the perfect wife and mother. An oft- repeated lament is “i feel lime i am walking on eggshells”
Verbal As Well As Physical Abuse
An enormous amount of verbal abuse accompanies physical abuse. A barrage of derogatory labels, such as “stupid bitch”,”ugly slut” or “cheap whore” is heaped upon the victim. Mind games are rampant. Some verbal abuse is less obvious to the abused party. It can be so subtle that the woman is unable to identify the intent of the words. She accepts this judgment that her housekeeping is sloppy, her child care lax, and she is hopeless, unappealing drudge. Her self esteem slips even lower.
More Violent When Partner Is Pregnant Or Soon After She Gives Birth
More shocking to observers than the other characteristics is the observation that the batterer is more violent when the partner is pregnant or soon after the birth of their child. This leads to speculation about “ womb envy”. Men who batter seem to want to impregnate, yet not necessarily to father or nurture their offspring. It is not unusual for them to tamper with their partner’s birth control measures or to assert that they had vasectomies when they have not. A recurring theme is,"" “if you could have my baby, or one more baby, then our problems would abate”. Yet, wife beating have been called the “poor man’s abortion”. Women have had miscarriages or stillbirths after savage attacks by their mates. Does envy of woman procreative power become a force of male violence?
What Are The Mental Health Effects Of Domestic Violence?
Mental Health Effects
Domestic violence can lead to other common emotional traumas such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. Abuse can trigger suicide attempts, psychotic episodes, homelessness and slow recovery from mental illness.
Children exposed to domestic violence are at risk for developmental problems, psychiatric disorders, school difficulties, aggressive behavior and low self esteem. These factors can make it difficult for survivors to mobilize resources.
What You Can Do If You Are Being Abused
While you cannot stop your partner’s abuse, only he or she can do that- you can find help and support for yourself.
- Talk with someone you trust, a friend or relative, a neighbor, a co-worker or religious or spiritual advisor.
- Tell your physician, nurse, psychiatrist or therapist about the abuse.
- Call the police if you are in danger.
- Remember, you know your situation better than anyone else. Don’t let someone talk you into doing something that is not right for you.