My professor, Ms. Baker, discussed domestic violence in class tonight. This is really quite remarkable as the class is a Theories of Personality class and domestic violence doesn’t really fit in as subject matter. She said that during her education, she was not presented with specific information about her interest in domestic abuse, and she doubted that domestic violence would be covered in any of our other courses.
From what I’ve seen so far (I’m a junior), she’s right. Even my abnormal psychology course left out discussion of domestic abuse despite my breach of the topic on the discussion board. No one wanted to talk about it. Domestic violence really is a silent experience for most people.
However, due to my lack of shame on the topic, I’ll talk about domestic abuse with anyone who wants to discuss it. I was abused and I was ashamed; that is not the case anymore. The abuse was not my fault, it was his fault. I wish I had responded to the abuses differently, but I didn’t, and now I know better. From here on out, my life will continue to improve.
So, my hat is off to Ms. Baker who took the opportunity to expose our class to the paradoxes of abuse in hope that when her students become therapists we will remember that domestic abuse is a complicated topic without easy solutions, to say the least.
Components of Domestic Abuse and Violence
Verbal, emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, and physical abuse are components of domestic violence. Many examples of abuse fall into more than one category. For example, telling someone they’re “stupid” (verbal abuse) crosses into emotional abuse, especially when the abuse has gone on for a while and the victim is willing to entertain the idea that they may actually be stupid (and worthless, and unable to care for themselves, and better off staying with the abuser due to the aforementioned “stupidity”).
Types of Physical Abuse
Probably the most clear-cut examples of abuse fall into the physical abuse category. Of course
- grabbing/restraining, and
- cutting or stabbing
are examples of physical abuse.
However, physical abuse can occur without leaving an obvious mark and merges with other types of abuse, too (i.e. sleep deprivation, electric shock/tazering, non-consensual excessive tickling, blocking exits, withholding food or water, et cetera). Some consider sexual abuse to be a form of physical abuse too.
The thing many people do not remember when their loved one finally admits to being physically abused is that the relationship probably did not start out with physical violence. I say probably because my professor said that sometimes the first hit causes a person to fall victim without a hint of verbal or emotional abuse in the past. I’ll take her word for it – she’s worked in this field for many years and I am but one abuse victim.
Types of Verbal and Emotional Abuse
However, for the most part, physically abused people endured a lot of verbal and emotional abuse before the physical abuse began. The abuse victim experiences constant
- financial abuse,
- control tactics/manipulation,
- abusive anger,
- cruel jokes, and
- outright brainwashing
to the point of being literally beside themselves with confusion, self-doubt and fear.
And then the physical abuse occurs.
The Completion of the Cycle of Violence
After the bruising or red marks show, the abuser sees that they may drive their victim away, so they
- straighten up,
- remind their victim about what good times they’ve had together and
- wax poetic about how much their love can withstand because they’re meant to be together,
- how sorry they are for being a jerk and
- promise that it will never ever happen again.
But it does happen again because the abuser cannot pretend to be a kind and loving human for long. The stress of the pretense builds, and before you know it, the victim is walking on egg shells and waiting for the abuser’s big bang.
With each rotation of the cycle of violence, the abuse victim’s belief in their ability to leave the relationship diminishes. If someone becomes brave enough to reach out to you, take them seriously even if their mate appears to be the epitome of a “good person” with social consciousness and standing. Abusers by nature are liars, and some evolve into killers, too.