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  • Partner Abuse

Domestic Violence

The reality of domestic violence includes more than the stereotypes of a submissive woman beaten by an alcoholic husband. Many psychologists work with clients experiencing current domestic violence.

Domestic violence is defined as the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. Many factors compound domestic violence such as alcohol abuse, stress, and economic problems. And intimate partners is defined as a close interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy. Intimate partners can be married, unmarried, gay, straight, separated, ex-spouses, cohabitating partners, old, young, or elderly.

Despite the fact that the majority of domestic violence occurs against women, men in heterosexual and gay relationships are victims as well. Here are some examples of domestic violence that may help you decide whether you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship.

Intimidation or emotional abuse: Emotional abuse or mental abuse makes the partner feel devalued, humiliated, or embarrassed. This can be behaviors that threaten, intimidate, undermines the person's self-esteem and autonomy. Threatening to injure the partner or commit suicide is emotional abuse. Withholding money, affection, alienating the partner from friends and family are common practices. Also, threatening to abandon, hurt, or reject children or pets are powerful abusive maneuvers.

Financial abuse: Preventing the partner from obtaining a job, sabotaging the partner's employment, stealing money, withholding account information, denying basic necessities, spending money, and incurring debt and/or taking out credit cards using the victim's identity are means of financial control.

Physical violence: The abuser can injure or cause physical pain which includes withholding medications, denying medical care, depriving the victim from sleep and other daily functioning activities. Additionally, coercing the person to use drugs and alcohol is physical abuse.

Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse is non-consensual sexual activity, pressuring someone to perform sexual acts that feels demeaning, unpleasant, uncomfortable, or morally violating. The abuser may threaten to leave the relationship if the victim declines having sex or disagrees with having an open polyamorous relationship. Tampering with the victim's modes of birth control is sexual and physical abuse. Adult sexual abuse is a controversial issue due to out-dated marital sex laws that do not consider unwanted sexual activity between a married couple illegal.

Stalking: Stalking is willful and related following, watching, harassing, or contacting another person. Cyberstalking includes researching public records, monitoring phone calls, using hidden cameras, and tracking movements via GPS apps.

Any one of these factors can escalate and trigger other abusive habits. Victims of domestic violence need to plan for safety. These are some tips. Think of an exit strategy, a way to leave the house and get to safety. Identify at least three places to go. Make plans for children and pets. Keep a bag hidden and ready with a prepaid cell phone and cash. Consider opening a personal bank account and getting a post office mailbox.

Research about your local Office of Victims Services. You may receive social service referrals, escorts to court proceedings, and assistance with other legal matters. In the meantime, keep track of abuse including photographs of injuries, anxiety-provoking emails, texts, and voicemails, and time/dates of threatening activities. Record arguments and conflicts especially related to children (catering while intoxicated, neglectfulness, driving under the influence, fighting in the presence of children) for visual and audio proof of abuse.

Finally, assess your current safety. Ask yourself if you may be in an abusive relationship. If you're unsure, identify risk factors in your relationship or dating history such as a history of abuse, attempts to break away from partner creates chaos, stalking or surprise visits, more than one item on a criminal record , untreated mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse, unstable employment, no close friendships or family relationships, callousness or injury to animals, and you make excuses for your partner's behaviors. One or more of these red flags is cause for serious attention.

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