Domestic Violence + Abuse: Know the Tell Tale Signs
When many people think of domestic violence, they instantly think of someone being physically abused. While emotional abuse is actually the most common form of abuse, there are many different forms of abuse that happen every day that often go unnoticed. Whether it’s you or a loved one, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of all forms of abuse.
Discriminatory Abuse: This form of abuse is often seen in school and in the workplace. Discriminatory abuse is when someone treats you unfairly based on your age, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, political views, gender identity, or gender. Discriminatory abuse may also be disguised as hate crimes or degrading slurs, which most companies have strict laws against. If you or someone you know is experiencing discriminatory abuse, look for signs of anxiety, being refused access to services, inappropriate exclusion, fearfulness, and tendency to withdraw and isolate.
Financial Abuse: This happens when a person takes control of your economic and financial resources. This is usually an attempt to control a person by limiting or controlling their spending habits. An allowance, misuse of money, extortion, threatening to stop financial support, and denying access to accounts are all forms of financial abuse.
Sexual Abuse: This form of abuse is one of the most common. Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity by way of force or threats. Most often those closest to a person will be the perpetrator of sexual abuse. Victims of sexual abuse may show signs of depression, nightmares, trouble sleeping, sudden behavioral changes, and thoughts of suicide. It’s important to recognize these signs and symptoms as they may be life-threatening.
Physical Abuse: This is another common form of abuse, often seen in domestic relationships and between children and their caregiver. It can also be seen perpetrated against the elderly, disabled people, those who are mentally ill, and substance abusers. Physical abuse is when a person commits bodily harm against another person intentionally. Bruises, scars, burns, and broken bones are a few easily noticeable signs of domestic violence. There are also psychological signs such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal behavior.
Emotional Abuse (also referred to psychological or mental abuse): This is a form of abuse that often goes unrecognized. This is when a person attempts to control another by using emotion to intimidate or degrade them. Emotional abuse takes form in many ways including the refusal to communicate, “mind games”, forced isolation from loved ones, and withholding affection. When it comes to emotional abuse, many abusers play off of a victim’s known insecurities. The constant chaos of this form of abuse can lead to a person doubting if they’re actually being abused.
Verbal Abuse: This form of abuse can often be disguised as jokes, judging or criticizing, threatening, name calling, and ordering. This is once again all an attempt to control a person. Verbal abuse involves the breaking down of a person’s esteem through hurtful words or name-calling, giving the abuser power. This form of abuse is often rooted in anger, which has the potential to lead to physical abuse. Even if it doesn’t, words can hurt and exact psychological harm; it’s important to know and recognize these signs of abuse when we see them.
Neglect: This is a form of abuse that is often forgotten about. Neglect is when a person fails to provide adequate care for a person they are responsible for. This is most often seen enacted against children and the elderly. There are four types of neglect: physical, emotional, educational, and medical. In children, signs of neglect may appear as lack of dental care, frequently absent from school, drug abuse, and poor hygiene. In adults, neglect may be in the form of withholding medication, lack of nourishment, and poor hygiene. These signs are important to notice because the victim may or may not be aware that they’re being abused, causing them to not report it.
If you are experiencing any of these forms of abuse, The National Domestic Violence Hotline suggests creating a safety plan that can help you escape. You can call them for additional assistance as well as legal help: 1−800−799−7233
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, there are steps and precautions to take before confronting a loved one who you believe is a victim of domestic violence:
- Acknowledge that they are in a very difficult and scary situation, be supportive and listen.
- Be non-judgmental
- If they end the relationship, continue to be supportive of them
- Encourage them to participate in activities outside of relationships with friends and family
- Help them develop a safety plan
- Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance
- Remember that you cannot “rescue” them
Call the domestic violence hotline for help regarding a multitude of abuses: 1−800−799−7233. If you or someone you know has experienced or is currently experiencing sexual abuse, call the Sexual Abuse Hotline at: 1-800-656-4673. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.