Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Abusive Relationships: What do they look like?

Although the month of October is centered on awareness of physical violence and abuse, abusive relationships take many forms. Often times, one type of abuse will lead to another. It is important to be aware of all types and know the warning signs. There are five central types of abusive relationships.

This is generally the image people have when the topic of domestic abuse is brought up. It might seem that the warning signs for this would be obvious. Often times, the victim will overlook or make excuses for small incidences of violence, and continue to do so until the problem escalates substantially.

Warning signs:
  • Feeling afraid of your partner
  • Fear of angering your partner
  • Wondering if you're the one who is "crazy"

It is a common misconception that unwanted or forced sex within marriage is not considered "rape." This is not the case. Sexual assault is any unwanted or forced sexual act that is committed without mutual consent. It can occur by force, through emotional manipulation, or when one party is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Warning signs:
  • Feeling legally or otherwise obligated to perform sexual acts
  • Unwanted touching
  • Demanding sex after a violent incident

Psychological abuse centers on power and control. This can also include elements of “brainwashing” the victim. Many times, the perpetrator will attribute controlling behavior to concern for the victim, claiming that he or she is looking out for the victim’s safety or well-being. The perpetrator will usually try to cut off any other personal connections that the victim may have so that the victim is heavily reliant upon him or her.

Warning signs:
  • Feeling like you must "get permission" before going somewhere or making small decisions
  • Feeling inferior to your partner
  • Your partner reminds you of past failures and shortcomings

The catch to emotional abuse is that it can be much more insidious and subtle. In many cases, neither the abuser nor the victim are aware that it is happening until significant damage or a “breaking point” has been reached. Emotional abuse damages the victim’s ability to connect with others and to connect with him or herself.

Warning signs:
  • Partner is putting you down in front of others to humiliate or degrade you
  • Partner makes claims such as "it was just a joke" when you try to address issues
  • Partner uses withdrawal or withholding affection or attention as means of addressing issues
Economic abuse occurs when one partner has control over the other partner’s access to economic resources. This control eliminates the victim’s capability to support him or herself and creates a high financial dependency on the abuser.

Warning signs:
  • Partner takes your money or convinces you to provide for him or her financially
  • Partner forces you to work more or less hours or quit your job
  • Partner pressures you to combine bank or savings accounts

If you or someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). Reach out to someone and get help. No one deserves to be a victim of abuse of any type.

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