Domestic violence is when an individual is intentionally abusive towards their partner in order to achieve or maintain control in the relationship. Domestic violence can come in the form of intimidation, fear, physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, or any other form of violence. Episodes of domestic violence can vary in frequency and severity, however, there is always one similarity in all cases of domestic violence; it is about control.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It was stated in President Obama's 2015 Proclamation about domestic violence awareness that nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in the United States alone has suffered from (an) episode(s) of severe violence by their significant other. This is a significant problem because domestic violence denies victims their freedom (the feeling of personal safety) and places their health and well-being at risk.
Identifying domestic abuse is not always as easy, but there are some behaviors and signs that could indicate possible abuse. These signs, provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) include but are not limited to:
- Accusing the victim of cheating
- Keeping or discouraging the victim from seeing friends or family members and showing extreme jealousy of time spent with others.
- Embarrassing or shaming the victim with put-downs; telling the victim that they can never do anything right
- Controlling every penny spent in the household and/or taking the victim's money or refusing to give them money for expenses
- Looking at or acting in ways that scare the victim
- Dictating how the victim dresses, wears their hair, etc.
- Stalking the victim or monitoring their victim's every move (in person or also via the internet and/or other devices such as GPS tracking or the victim's phone)
- Threatening to hurt or kill the victim's friends, loved ones, or pets
- Intimidating the victim with guns, knives, or other weapons
- Pressuring the victim to have sex when they don't want to or to do things sexually they are not comfortable with and/ or refusing to use protection when having sex or sabotaging birth control
- Preventing the victim from working or attending school, harassing the victim at either, keeping their victim up all night so they perform badly at their job or in school
Abuse has a tendency to be cyclical. It does not usually occur only one time. It is ongoing. If you, or someone you know, may be the victim of domestic abuse it is important to talk to someone you trust or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (available 24/7/365): 1-(800) 799-7233 (SAFE). Without help, abuse will most likely continue. These websites also offer valuable and potentially lifesaving resources for both victims and their loved ones:
It is never the victim's fault in cases of domestic abuse, and as we advocate and raise awareness this month it is important to remember to pay attention to relationship red flags, be aware of resources available, and offer our help to make the community a safe place for all!
Information provided by Abigail Willett, student intern with Community Outreach at Augusta Health. To contact Dana Breeding, RN, relating to the information in this article or with questions/comments/concerns, please call (540) 332-4988 or (540) 932-4988.