GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) — Domestic Violence can happen to anyone. It affects both females and males of all age groups and all races and economic groups. The definition of domestic violence is the abuse of a person in the same family or household or with whom the couple have a child in common. It also includes violence between dating couples, couples who are sexually intimate, children and other members of the family including the elderly. It can include physical violence, sexual assault, stalking, threats, pet abuse, intimidation, financial control and coercion. Teen date abuse is also domestic violence and we need to educate our young people.
RED FLAG SIGNS OF ABUSE
If you think you may be a victim of domestic abuse, you likely are. So how do you determine if you are a victim and if it is time to leave? Here are some things to look for to determine if you are a victim of domestic violence:
•Using isolation to control you by cutting you off from family and friends through threats or intimidation.
•Discouraging outside activities and limiting your use of the car so you are not free to go places at will and being jealous of any other friendships or relationships or suspicious of anything you do.
•Accusing you of having affairs or relationships with friends, acquaintances and coworkers is also a common sign of an abuser and may lead to control of what you wear by your partner so you don’t dress ‘provocatively’.
•Controlling all the finances, denying access to account or credit cards and cash, giving you an allowance or preventing you from going to school or working outside the home are warning signs of an abusive relationship as is controlling health and dental care. Preventing you from leaving because you are financially dependant is important to abusers.
BE AWARE OF WARNING SIGNS
Emotional manipulation and being overly sensitive such as being easily angered or insulted are another aspect to watch for. Humiliation, embarrassing you in public and ridiculing you in front of others as well as using intimate information about you or your past to make you feel badly or guilty about yourself by exposing your ‘true self’ to others is another clue you are dealing with an abuser.
Abusers suck out your self-esteem and convince you that it is your fault the relationship is having difficulties. They attempt to convince you that if you leave there is no one who would want you.
Intimidating you by threats, verbal abuse, destruction of your most beloved possessions and abuse or the threat of harm to pets is another tactic used by abusers to gain control over their victim. Physically throwing things or threatening to harm you is a warning sign.
ABUSERS CAN APPEAR “NORMAL”
Domestic abusers can appear to be successful, competent members of society, but behind closed doors become ‘another person’. If you are in a relationship with someone who uses some or all of the tactics of an abuser to control you, please seek help. It will not get better on it’s own. Nothing you do can make it stop because IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT AND HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. It is the fault of the abuser and their problems and issues, not yours.
WHEN TO LEAVE
When should you leave an abusive relationship? As soon as possible to do so safely. Your children will be affected adversely by living with an abuser and so will you. Seek help. You can start by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline:800-799-SAFE (3224)