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Ways To Identify Domestic Abuse And Craft An Exit Strategy

Beverly Price Article One October 2023

Empowered Divorce Thought Leader: Beverly Price

The issue of domestic violence poses a grave concern for numerous women.

It is imperative to be able to identify the indicators of an abusive relationship and understand how to extricate oneself from a perilous situation.

Instances may arise when your partner apologizes and assures you that the hurtful behavior will not recur, yet you remain apprehensive that it will. This may lead you to question if the abuse is real or imagined, despite experiencing genuine emotional or physical anguish. If this situation resonates with you, there’s a possibility that you are grappling with domestic violence.

“This form of violence encompasses emotional, sexual, and physical abuse, along with threats of such abuse.”

Recognizing Domestic Violence:

Recognizing domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, transpires within intimate relationships. This form of violence encompasses emotional, sexual, and physical abuse, along with threats of such abuse. While partner abuse can afflict anyone, it disproportionately targets women. Notably, domestic violence is present in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships.

Abusive relationships inherently involve an inequity of power and control. The abusive party employs intimidating and hurtful language and behaviors to exert control over the other partner. Detecting signs of domestic violence might not be straightforward. While some abusive relationships are glaringly apparent, often the abuse emerges subtly and exacerbates over time. If you find yourself in a relationship where your partner:

  • Engages in name-calling, insults, or demeaning remarks.
  • Discourages you from interacting with family, friends, or attending work or school.
  • Exerts control over your finances, whereabouts, medications, or attire.
  • Demonstrates jealousy, possessiveness, or groundless accusations of infidelity.
  • Becomes aggressive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Uses threats of violence or wields weapons.
  • Inflicts physical harm such as hitting, kicking, choking, or harming children and pets.
  • Coerces you into non-consensual sexual acts.
  • Blames you for their violent behavior or attempts to justify it.

Impact Of Domestic Violence:

In same-sex relationships or situations involving bisexuality or transgender identity, abuse may also manifest if your partner:

  • Threatens to expose your sexual orientation or gender identity to others.
  • Belittles the potential of receiving assistance due to your sexuality or gender identity.
  • Uses your sexual orientation or gender identity to rationalize abuse.

“However, seeking assistance is the most effective way to safeguard yourself and your loved ones.”

Parenthood, Children, Family, and the Impact of Domestic Violence:

There are instances where domestic violence commences or intensifies during pregnancy, putting both your well-being and that of your baby at risk. This danger persists even after childbirth. Even if your child isn’t directly abused, witnessing domestic abuse can be psychologically damaging. Children raised in abusive environments are more susceptible to abuse and behavioral issues. As adults, they might perpetuate abuse or normalize it in relationships.

The fear of jeopardizing your family might deter you from divulging the truth about the abuse. However, seeking assistance is the most effective way to safeguard yourself and your loved ones from domestic abuse.

Breaking The Cycle:

If you’re ensnared in an abusive relationship, you might identify a recurring pattern:

  1. Your abuser issues threats of violence.
  2. Your abuser perpetrates physical harm.
  3. Your abuser apologizes, promises change, and offers appeasements.
  4. The cycle repeats.

The longer you endure an abusive relationship, the greater the toll it exacts on your physical and emotional well-being. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and self-doubt may surface. You might feel helpless or paralyzed. There’s a possibility you might even question if the abuse is your own fault, a common internal conflict for survivors that can hinder seeking help.

Shifting Responsibility:

It’s plausible that you’re hesitant to seek help due to your perception that you share some responsibility for the abusive dynamics. This could stem from:

  • Your partner placing blame on you for the violence.
  • The abusive behavior being directed solely at you, while the abuser presents a charming facade to others.
  • Misdiagnoses stemming from unshared details of the abuse during therapy or medical appointments.
  • Instances where you’ve reacted defensively during conflicts, which the abuser manipulates to frame you as the aggressor.

If you’re struggling to discern the situation, step back to evaluate broader relationship patterns and review signs of domestic violence. Within an abusive relationship, the consistent perpetrator of these behaviors is the abuser, while the recipient endures the abuse.

“Remember that you’re not alone and professionals are equipped to support you.”

Unique Circumstances:

  • Immigrants: Fear of deportation might deter immigrants from seeking help. Language barriers, financial dependency, and limited social networks can exacerbate this isolation. However, U.S. laws extend protection against domestic abuse regardless of immigration status. Resources like legal aid, shelters, and medical care are accessible, along with potential legal safeguards allowing abused immigrants to remain in the country.
  • Older Women: Age and longstanding relationships can present challenges for older women experiencing abuse. Societal norms of bygone eras might have stifled conversations around domestic violence. Health issues and dependency might amplify feelings of responsibility.
  • Same-Sex Relationships: Disclosing one’s sexual orientation can be a hurdle in seeking help after an assault. Fear of disbelief can be heightened if the assault is perpetrated by another woman.

Despite these challenges, taking action remains the key to ending the cycle of domestic abuse. Initiate by confiding in someone trustworthy—a friend, family member, healthcare provider, or a domestic violence hotline. While discussing the abuse might initially be daunting, remember that you’re not alone and professionals are equipped to support you.

Crafting a Safety Strategy:

Exiting an abusive relationship can be hazardous. Consider the following precautions:

  • Seek guidance from a women’s shelter or domestic violence hotline during safe moments or from secure locations.
  • Prepare an emergency bag containing essentials, keeping it in a safe place alongside vital documents, money, and medications.
  • Plan your destination and route.

Securing communication and location abusers can exploit technology to monitor your communications and track your movements. To protect your privacy:

  • Exercise caution with phones to prevent intercepted calls.
  • Utilize safe computers, perhaps at work, libraries, or trusted friends’ houses.
  • Disable GPS devices to thwart location tracking.
  • Regularly change email passwords and clear browsing history.

Where to seek assistance In emergencies, contact law enforcement or local emergency services. Other avenues for help include:

  • Trusted individuals in your circle.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233).
  • Healthcare providers who can treat injuries and offer referrals.
  • Local women’s shelters or crisis centers.
  • Counseling or mental health centers.
  • Legal resources for restraining orders and guidance through legal processes.

Recognizing and acknowledging an abusive relationship can be challenging, but help is available. Remember, no one deserves to endure abuse.

Source: The Mayo Clinic

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About the Author:

Beverly Price, MBA, Certified Divorce Coach®, podcast host, and Founder of Her Empowered Divorce, combines divorce and empowerment coaching to provide education, support, and insight to guide women from beginning to end of the divorce process, and to conquer its emotional, technical, financial and logistical challenges and fears. 

She coaches women through the ups and downs and grow from self-doubt to self-love quicker, with less pain, more knowledge and more support than she had.  She has a personal history with divorce, co-parenting, domestic violence and more. Combining her personal experience with her training, professional certifications and business knowledge, she can help women by supporting them along their journey, helping them to work through resentments, time management, communication, overwhelm, fear, sadness and shock. You can schedule a complimentary consultation with Beverly at https://www.herempowereddivorce.com  Check out this Meetup group for support on Zoom for separated, divorcing, and divorced women https://www.meetup.com/womens-divorce-and-empowerment-group/