Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse or intimate partner violence, comes in many forms, and some may be harder to label than others. It can happen to anyone of any age, race or gender, and doesn't always involve physical violence. Domestic abuse can include any pattern of abusive behaviors used by one partner against another in a relationship to try to gain or maintain control.
Deep down, you may already know that your relationship isn't healthy, but you may have convinced yourself it's not so bad or that you're imagining things. You might think that domestic abuse only involves physical harm, and, while this is certainly an example, it is by no means the only one. Other things partners do to arouse fear, to prevent you from doing something they don't want you to do, or to force you to behave in a way they wish may constitute domestic abuse, even if these things don't involve physical violence.
What are some types of domestic abuse?
Just like every relationship is different, so are instances of domestic violence. One thing most abusive relationships have in common, though, is the abusive partner's attempt to exert power and control. Some common forms of abuse may include:
- Physical abuse: One partner intentionally causes injury to the other partner's body
- Emotional abuse: Characterized by one partner subjecting the other to behavior that may result in psychological trauma by manipulating emotions through words and actions
- Sexual abuse or coercion: Even if it is non-physical, this can vary from being nagged for sex to being forced into it; it can be emotional or verbal, usually attempting to make the other partner feel pressure or guilt
- Reproductive coercion: Often involves one partner attempting to pressure the other into having children or making him or her feel guilty for not wanting children
- Financial abuse: One partner attempts to exert power over the other via regulating or controlling finances
- Digital abuse: One partner uses technologies like social networking or texting to harass, intimidate, bully or control the other
While these types of abuse are all different, each one is serious. A partner can inflict one or more types of abuse simultaneously, but even one is bad enough.
Are there any warning signs?
The following are only a few of the many red flags that could indicate that you are in an abusive relationship:
- Shows extreme jealousy
- Prevents you from seeing friends or family members
- Insults, demeans or shames you
- Controls all financial aspects of the household
- Insists you are a bad parent or threatens to take away or harm your children
- Prevents you from working or attending school
- Destroys your property or threatens your pets
- Intimidates you with weapons
- Pressures you to do things sexually with which you're not comfortable or to have sex when you're not interested
If you are experiencing even just a few of these behaviors, you may want to give serious thought as to whether your relationship is abusive and consider seeking help.
What can I do?
Even if you just need someone to talk to, you may want to contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Additionally, while you may have believed that you need to experience physical violence before seeking help, hopefully this article has demonstrated that this is only one of the many forms abuse can take. If you are experiencing any type of abuse listed above, you may wish to look into an order of protection.
An order of protection prohibits your abuser from contacting you, either physically or via phone calls, texts, emails or even letters. It may even demand that your abuser stay away from you and your children at home, work and school, and may grant you temporary custody. In Illinois, an emergency order of protection may be granted for up to 30 days while a family law attorney helps you obtain a court hearing to seek a permanent order.