October is recognized as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month”. It can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Emotional abuse is often minimized, yet it can leave deep and lasting scars.
Noticing and acknowledging the warning signs and symptoms of domestic violence and abuse is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out. There is help available.
1. Is your partner threatening or violent towards you or the children?
2. Do you find yourself making excuses or minimizing your partner’s behavior?
3. Do you feel completely controlled by your partner?
4. Do you feel helpless, trapped, alone, and isolated?
5. Do you blame yourself for the violence?
6. Does your partner blame you and tell you that you are the cause of all his problems?
7. Do you blame the violence on stress, on drugs/alcohol, or a bad childhood?
8. Does your partner constantly accuse you of having affairs when he can’t account for 100% of your time? Does he/she tell you jealousy is a sign of love?
9. Do you fear going home?
10. Are you limited in your freedom like a child? (Go to the store and come straight home. It should take you 15 minutes.)
11. Do you find yourself lying to hide your partner’s real behavior (for example, saying you fell down the stairs when actually you were pushed)?
12. Are you embarrassed or humiliated by your partner in an effort to control your behavior, especially in public?
13. Does your partner abandon you, leave you places, or lock you out?
14. Does your partner hide your keys, mail, or other important papers?
If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating—telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life.
Do’s and Don’t’s
- Ask if something is wrong.
- Express concern.
- Listen and validate.
- Offer help.
- Support his or her decisions.
- Wait for him or her to come to you.
- Judge or blame.
- Pressure him or her.
- Give advice.
- Place conditions on your support.
Remember, abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. People who have been emotionally abused or battered are depressed, drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. They need help to get out, yet they’ve often been isolated from their family and friends. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin healing. If someone you know needs help start by reaching out to the Hotline. Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or 1.800.787.3224
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