Domestic Violence – Misconceptions and How to Get Help
Domestic or spousal abuse is a pattern of abusive behavior perpetrated by one partner in a marriage or relationship. While men are statistically more likely to be the abuser in these relationships, domestic violence can be perpetrated by women and can occur in same sex couples. A common misconception is that domestic abuse is always physical. Emotional abuse is a very real problem and women who are emotionally abused by their partners should be encouraged to seek help. Another misconception is that abusers are violent because they cannot control their emotions. Domestic violence is entirely about control. The point of the abuse is to gain dominance and control over another person – the abuser’s spouse. Challenging the disinformation out there about spousal abuse is an important part of changing widely held opinions on domestic violence. The best way to help battered women in today’s society is to spread information about the facts of domestic abuse and what services are available to help abused and battered women.
Types of Domestic Abuse and Battery
Physical violence is an all to common component to abuse. Referred to legally as battery, the physical abuse found in domestic violence can be any application of physical force such as hitting, choking, or using a weapon. Even minor incidents such as pushing or grabbing are physical abuse. Sexual violence is another component of domestic abuse. Also referred to as marital or spousal rape, a husband forcing his partner to have sex is a form of domestic abuse. Unfortunately, many think there is a sort of implied consent between married couples. This is not the case; forcing your partner to have sex is rape. This physical violence has one goal – control. Physical abuse allows the abuser to dominate his spouse by keeping her in a state of fear.
Emotional abuse is every bit as threatening as physical abuse. An emotional abuser uses coercion and verbal threats rather than physical abuse to dominate and control their spouse. The goal of emotional abuse is to make the abused spouse feel worthless and out of control in her life. An abuser will often stalk his spouse, keeping track of her daily schedule so she can be interrogated later. By lying to his wife or hiding personal items (like her keys), the abuser is able to make his partner start to question her sanity. An abuser will use any means he can to establish control over his partner‘s life. His wife’s contact with friends and family, her finances, even her job is a target for the abuser to assert his control over her life. This is all done with the purpose of isolating the victim. Verbal abuse is another component of emotional control. Calling his spouse worthless or threatening her is all done to further this sense of isolation and dominance.
Misconceptions about Domestic Abuse
Both the physical and emotional abuse is done for one purpose – control. The abuser desires to control everything about the life of his spouse and uses emotional threats or physical violence towards this end. An abuser does not act impulsively. The actions of an abuser are carefully controlled and done for the explicit purpose of dominating his spouse. Abusers create fear through threats of violence, humiliating verbal abuse, and the isolation of the abuse victim. The abuser wants to control all aspects of his spouse’s life and will expect her to completely obey his wishes. Domestic violence is a calculated choice made by the abuser. Contrary to the notion of an abuser lashing out in an emotional state, violence only happens when the abuser believe it is beneficial to do so. An abuser will choose his victim carefully and violence will only occur exactly when and where the abuser wants it to.
One of the most unfortunate misconceptions about domestic abuse is that it is somehow the victim’s fault for not leaving her situation. Women who have been in such situations know it is not that simple. Often the abuser has threatened her life or the life of their children if she tries to leave. An abuser has also spent years isolating the victim and verbally degrading her. To make the risky decision to leave is a major undertaking, even for someone who is suffering physical abuse. An abuse victim may also cling to the possibility that her abuser may change. Domestic abusers often go through long periods of inactivity where they may act as caring partners to their spouses. However, abusers will invariably return to their pattern of violence. The best thing for victims of domestic violence is to be convinced to get out of their situation as soon as possible.
Help for Abused and Battered Women
As a victim of an abusive spouse, it is important to make a plan to leave your situation. Create an escape plan for when you need to leave your situation. Have clothing, necessary documents and emergency cash set aside for when you plan to leave. Purchase a pre-paid cell phone and keep it hidden for emergencies. Be wary of using the internet or sending emails from a computer your spouse can access as it will not be private. Have a plan of where to go after leaving, either to a trusted friend’s home or a women’s shelter. These are safe locations where women fleeing violent relationships can hide from their abusive spouse. To find the location of a domestic violence shelter in your area, call 911 or your local police department and ask for the shelter nearest you. These shelters have resources available in regards to getting a restraining order, other legal advice, and counseling for women to take advantage of.
Helping a victim of domestic abuse can be a difficult situation. Directing the abuse victim to domestic violence support services is the best thing that can be done for her. Do not pressure her or try to force her to seek help and never blame her for staying in her situation. Many women in abusive relationships have been told they will be killed if they leave. Choosing to leave the relationship is an enormous decision for a woman with an abusive partner. Listening to her concerns in an open and trusting manner is the best way of helping her deal with the ordeal of leaving a violent relationship.