The following statistics are startling:
- Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
- Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
- Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
- Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
- Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
- Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
- Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
- Based on reports from 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted non-governmental organizations, shelters, or the police for help.
- The costs of intimate partner violence in the US alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
- Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents. (source http://domesticviolencestatistics.org/)
Nobody should ever have to experience the misery of domestic abuse. Yet many do. When we think about the term, we will often automatically consider physical violence and beating as the main element of this. A look at the statistics above will soon tell you that. However, we must not forget that domestic abuse also covers emotional abuse as well as physical. In this particular case, many cases go unreported, they are excused or denied as no physical violence exists. This more subtle form of control might include the following :
- Verbal abuse
- Financial and economic restrictions
- Intimidation and controlling
- Blaming and shaming
- Sabotage of anything that might increase self-esteem among other things.
Violent and threatening behavior can include the following: Does your partner:
- have a bad and unpredictable temper?
- hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
- threaten to take your children away or harm them?
- threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
- force you to have sex?
- destroy your belongings?
- Physically and violently attack you?
These obvious and more subtle signs of domestic abuse are a choice by the abuser. Abusers make a choice to abuse. There is no excuse that can cover this. Not conditioning, not childhood, not experience. Nothing. It is a choice and anyone involved with a partner who does this needs to get away from them as quickly as possible.
However, the first stage is recognising and accepting that you are a victim and then finding the courage to do something about it. Many people stay in abusive, violent relationships making excuses and in a state of denial. This is not surprising given that many abusers use a variety of tactics after the abuse to minimise the effect. Denial, humiliation, blame, more threats, showing “love”, keeping the victim isolated and depressed and even worse, dependent emotionally and financially.
Abusers know exactly what they are doing and much evidence points to the fact that they make a definite choice to abuse. It is not an impulsive act. Abusers generally do not abuse everyone in their life, they pick their victims carefully. You might find they are actually nice to some others, even generous and kind. They can also control very carefully when and where the abuse happens. They can seem quite controlled in public and explode in private after holding in resentment. They can also stop the abuse for a time if it suits them or if they feel they might be found out. Sounds very deliberate and planned and it usually is.
As you can see from the diagram above, there is a process that normally prevails in violent relationships. One can also apply this to emotional abuse as well.
- The abuse, emotional, verbal or physical takes place. The abuser is doing this to control and dominate.
- Guilt. Not what you would expect. The abuser does not feel guilty for the abuse. He or she is worried about the possibility of being caught.
- Excuses. A whole list of reasons come forward including blaming the abused for the abuse. The abuser is trying to avoid responsibility and covering the abuse.
- The abuser tries to regain control by acting normally. This could include confusingly doing “nice” things for the abused, buying gifts and showing “love”. This sometimes gives the abused hope that change might be happening.
- Planning and brooding fantasy. This is a very dangerous phase for the abused.The abuser is thinking hard about the next round of abuse. He or she starts to resent, brood and find reasons to believe their partner deserves what they are about to get.
- Set Up. The plan goes into operation. The abuser finds an opportunity to abuse and carries it out. Many victims will find it difficult to leave at this stage or to consider that they have been abused because they often fix on the part of the cycle where the abuser acted normally.
If you would like more information on the early warning signs of domestic abuse, here is an excellent resource. HERE
International Domestic Abuse Helplines:
Help for women:
- In the US: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
- In Canada: Visit ShelterSafe to find the helpline of a women’s shelter near you.
- UK: Call Women’s Aid UK at 0808 2000 247.
- Ireland: Call Women’s Aid at 1800 341 900.
- Australia: Call 1800RESPECT at 1800 737 732.
- Worldwide: visit International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies for a global list of helplines and crisis centers.