If you take a look at the women around you, one in every four of them will experience some sort of domestic violence in her lifetime. However, many people do not realize they are being abused. Domestic violence can take on many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, and economic/financial abuse. Just because you are not battered and bruised does not mean that you are not being abused.
The most obvious sign of abuse is fear of one’s partner. The fear is often derived from physical and/or sexual abuse, involving punches, slaps, kicks, forced sex, or any other act of violence that may physically injure the victim. Even if the incidence is a minor violent act or if it only occurred once or twice, it is still abuse. Although the physical violence may stop if the victim goes into a passive mode, the abuse is still present, but has shifted from physical to psychological abuse.
Emotional abuse is often minimized and overlooked and may be hard to recognize. Yet, it is more common than people think and can be carried out in several different ways; verbal attacks, isolation from friends and family, intimidation to cause obedience, controlling behaviors, threats of physical violence, dominance, and humiliation are among the most common forms. The perpetrator may also deny and blame the victim for the abusive behavior.
An abuser’s goal is to control his or her victim, and many times he or she uses money to do so. Economic or financial abuse is when an abuser attempts to restrict the victim’s income and expenses by stealing or withholding the victim’s money or credit cards, sabotaging the victim’s job, preventing him or her from working outside the home, or in any other way controlling the victim’s finances.
If you witness any warning signs of abuse in your own relationship, or in a friend, family member, or co-worker, take them very seriously. People who are being abused may go along with everything their partner say or do; talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy, or possessiveness; have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents”; dress in covering clothes; rarely appear in public without their partner; and show signs of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts.
Speak up if you suspect domestic violence or abuse
If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up – it could save their life! Ask them if something is wrong, express your concern, listen, be supportive, and let them know that help is available. Don’t wait for them to come to you, judge or blame them for the abuse, give advice or place conditions on your support. By picking up on the warning signs of abuse and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin the transition to a peaceful life.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119. Hubbard House can help.
ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE
Founded as the first domestic violence shelter in Florida in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 6,000 women, children, and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic childcare, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.
By Vicky Krook and Ashley Johnson Scott