Part two of a series of articles devoted to Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2008
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Domestic abuse occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Abusers don't "play fair." They use fear, guilt, shame and intimidation to wear you down and gain complete power over you. They may threaten you, hurt you or hurt those around you.
Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.
Victims of domestic abuse or domestic violence may be men or women, although women are more commonly victimized. Except for the gender difference, domestic abuse doesn't discriminate. It happens within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds and financial levels. The abuse may occur during a relationship, while the couple is breaking up or after the relationship has ended.
Despite what many people believe, domestic violence is not due to the abuser's loss of control over his or her behavior. In fact, violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to take control over their spouse or partner.
Types of domestic violence and abuse
Types of domestic abuse include emotional, physical, sexual and economic. Many abusers behave in ways that include more than one type of domestic abuse, and the boundaries between some of these behaviors may overlap.
Aca,!AcEmotional or psychological abuse. Emotional or psychological abuse can be verbal or nonverbal. Its aim is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence. If you're the victim of emotional abuse, you may feel that there is no way out of the relationship or that without your abusive partner you have nothing.
Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming and shaming. Isolation, intimidation and controlling behavior also fall under emotional abuse. Additionally, abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence.
You may think physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with scars. But, the scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep.
In fact, emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse - sometimes even more so. Furthermore, emotional abuse usually worsens over time, often escalating to physical battery.
Aca,!AcPhysical abuse. When people talk about domestic violence, they are often referring to the physical abuse of a spouse or partner. Physical abuse is the use of physical force against someone in a way that injures or endangers that person.
A broad range of behaviors come under the heading of physical abuse, including hitting, grabbing, choking, throwing things and assault with a weapon.
Physical assault or battering is a crime, whether it occurs inside or outside of the family. Police have the power and authority to protect you from physical attack.
Aca,!AcSexual abuse. Sexual abuse is common in abusive relationships. Any situation in which you are forced to participate in degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse.
Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom you also have consensual sex, is an act of aggression and violence.
Furthermore, women whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed.
Aca,!AcEconomic or financial abuse. Remember, an abuser's goal is to control you, and he or she will frequently hurt you to do that. In addition to hurting you emotionally and physically, an abusive partner may also hurt you in the pocketbook.
Economic or financial abuse includes the following:
Aca,!AcControlling the finances,
Aca,!AcWithholding money or credit cards,
Aca,!AcGiving you an allowance,
Aca,!AcMaking you account for every penny you spend,
Aca,!AcStealing from you or taking your money,
Aca,!AcExploiting your assets for personal gain,
Aca,!AcWithholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications or shelter),
Aca,!AcPreventing you from working or choosing your own career, and/or
Aca,!AcSabotaging your job (making you miss work or calling constantly).