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Warning Signs and Impact of Domestic Violence

How do you know if you're being abused? Definition and warning signs of domestic violence plus mental health effects of domestic violence.

What Is Domestic Violence?

How to know if you're being abused? Definition and warning signs of domestic violence plus mental health effects of domestic violence.Domestic violence is control by one partner over another in a dating, marital or live-in relationship. The means of control include physical, sexual, emotional and economic abuse, threats and isolation.

Survivors face many obstacles in trying to end the abuse in their lives although most are able to...psychological and economic entrapment, physical isolation and lack of social support, religious and cultural values, fear of social judgment, threats and intimidation over custody or separation, immigration status or disabilities and lack of viable alternatives. Increased public, legal and healthcare awareness and improved community resources enable survivors to rebuild their lives.

Who Is Affected by Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence occurs in every culture, country and age group. It affects people from all socioeconomic, educational and religious backgrounds and takes place in same sex as well as heterosexual relationships. Women with fewer resources or greater perceived vulnerability—girls and those experiencing physical or psychiatric disabilities or living below the poverty line—are at even greater risk for domestic violence and lifetime abuse. Children are also affected by domestic violence, even if they do not witness it directly.

How Do You Know if You Are Being Abused?

Abusers use many ways to isolate, intimidate and control their partners. It starts insidiously and may be difficult to recognize. Early on, your partner may seem attentive, generous and protective in ways that later turn out to be frightening and controlling. Initially the abuse is isolated incidents for which your partner expresses remorse and promises never to do again or rationalizes as being due to stress or caused by something you did or didn't do.


 

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EARLY WARNING SIGNS OF ABUSE:

  • Quick whirlwind romance
  • Wanting to be with you all the time; tracking what you're doing and who you're with
  • Jealousy at any perceived attention to or from others
  • Attempts to isolate you in the guise of loving behavior (You don't need to work or go to school; we only need each other, criticizing friends/family for not caring about you)
  • Hypersensitivity to perceived slights
  • Quick to blame others for the abuse
  • Pressures you into doing things you aren't comfortable with (If you really love me, you'll do this for me)

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.

How Common Is Domestic Violence?

According to a National Violence Against Women Survey, 22 percent of women are physically assaulted by a partner or date during their lifetime and nearly 5.3 million partner victimizations occur each year among U.S. women ages 18 and older, resulting in two million injuries and 1,300 deaths.

  • Nearly 25 percent of women have been raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner during their lives.
  • 15.4 percent of gay men, 11.4 percent of lesbians and 7.7 percent of heterosexual men, are assaulted by a date or intimate partner during their lives.
  • More than 1 million women and 371,000 men are stalked by partners each year.

continue: Mental Health Effects of Domestic Violence and Domestic Violence Resources

Last Updated: 29 March 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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