“Hey Jenna. You seem awfully quiet today. You’re usually more out-going. Is anything bothering you?”
“No, I’m fine.”
Have you ever been asked this question, then replied with this same answer? Are you afraid to let someone know what’s happening at home? Are you thinking this situation will resolve on its own? If so, don’t stop reading this blog. It just might open your eyes to signs of abuse.
Before we learn about the different types of abuse, let’s look at one definition of domestic violence. Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used by one person to gain and maintain power and control over another person in an intimate relationship.
Subtle Signs of Abuse
Most abuse, whether it is physical, emotional, sexual, or financial can start very subtly. In this blog, we will be talking about several different types of abuse. Many times, a partner will begin with emotional abuse; hurting your feelings on purpose or criticizing your character. The abuser will talk down about your family and friends, call you names and minimize your concerns. An insincere apology is usually not far behind.
Power and Control
An abuser can use power and control in many different ways. The following is a list of ways an abuser can try to manipulate an individual: emotions, isolation, intimidation, using children, sexual, financial, using privilege and physical. All of these are forms of abuse and should be taken seriously. Let’s look at each of these ways and examples an abuser can use power and control over another individual.
Emotional abuse could be not caring about the victim’s concerns, playing games with their mind, or instilling fear by yelling and cursing. Using isolation could be keeping the victim from their family and friends to listening in on phone conversations and reading texts. Some forms of intimidation might be destroying possessions, abusing pets and/or threatening to hurt the children. Another way the abuser could use the children is by threatening to take away visitation or to take the children away.
Sexual abuse could consist of preventing the victim from using birth control, being forceful or being threatening or coercive.
Financial abuse could be when the abuser controls all decisions involving money, and creating a financial dependency with the abuser.
Always claiming to be right is one example of using privilege to gain power over a victim. Another example of using privilege would be to use religion or disabilities to gain control.
Physical abuse can take many forms. A few would be hitting, choking, burning or slapping plus forcing the victim to use alcohol or drugs. Also, using any kind of weapon would be considered physical abuse.
Now, read on to understand the abuse progression and how you can receive help.
Not always, but many times physical abuse starts with verbal and emotional abuse. There are no bruises or visual scars you can show, but please know, verbal and emotional abuse are just as damaging as physical abuse and can also be a precursor to physical abuse which can progress to the taking of a life.
Please study the ladder that demonstrates a typical progression of abuse. (Not all abuse follows this progression.) Notice on the ladder how the abuse begins by seeming to be relatively minor; hurting feelings, controlling, then moves upward to things like destroying property, then on to physical abuse such as slapping and hitting. As the abuse moves upward on the ladder, it is climbing closer to death.
Where on this ladder would cause you to leave the relationship? Where on this ladder would you seek help?
So, you have finally opened up to a family member. You tell them about a few things your partner has done, like continually putting you down and attacking your self-esteem. Then your family member asks, “But, has he physically hurt you?” This question is sometimes asked by a person who doesn’t understand the full implication of the word “abuse.” There is not one abuse worse than another abuse. All abuse is wrong and should be stopped.
Let’s go back to that beginning conversation.
“You seem awfully quiet today. You’re usually more out-going. Is anything bothering you?”
Do you see signs of abuse in your life that have been previously discussed? Do you need someone to talk to?
Help Is as Close as a Phone Call
If you feel the relationship you are in has signs of abuse, please get help. The abuse that comes from an abuser is NOT the fault of the victim. If you live in Kentucky, call The Center for Women and Families 24-hour Crisis Line at 502-581-7222. Outside of Kentucky call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).