Some types of abuse can be very subtle. So how do you know if it's really abuse? Here is a link to a webpage with exerts from a great book entitled "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy Bancroft. We use this book regularly in our advocacy work and find that it is very easy to read and truly understand why "he does that".
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can take different forms, but its goal is always the same:
Abusers want to control their domestic partners through fear.
They do this by abusing them physically, sexually, psychologically, verbally, and economically.
Here are some of the forms domestic violence can take:
hitting, kicking, punching, beating, slapping, strangling, punching
making humiliating remarks,
mocking, swearing, yelling
forcing sex on an unwilling partner,
demanding sexual acts that the victim does now want to perform,
making the victim feel guilty,
manipulating children and other family members
always insisting on being right
making up impossible "rules" and punishing the victim for breaking them
following or stalking,
embarrassing the victim in public,
constantly checking up on the victim,
refusing to leave when asked
not paying bills,
refusing to give victim money,
not letting the victim work,
interfering with the victim's job,
prohibiting the victim from going to school,
not allowing the victim to learn a job skill,
refusing to work and support the family
lying, breaking promises,
withholding important information,
being unfaithful, being overly jealous,
not sharing domestic responsibilities
Threats and Intimidation:
threatening to harm the victim, the children, family members, or pets,
using physical size to intimidate, shouting,
keeping weapons and threatening to use them
not expressing feelings,
not giving compliments,
not paying enough attention,
not respecting the victim's feelings, rights, and opinions,
not taking the victim's concerns seriously
Destruction of Property:
destroying furniture, punching walls, throwing or breaking things, abusing pets
abusing drugs or alcohol,
threatening self-harm or suicide
deliberately doing things that will cause trouble
Emotional abuse is elusive. Unlike physical abuse, the people doing it and receiving it may not even know it’s happening.
It can be more harmful than physical abuse because it can undermine what we think about ourselves. It can cripple all we are meant to be as we allow something untrue to define us. Emotional abuse can happen between parent and child, husband and wife, among relatives and between friends.
The abuser projects their words, attitudes or actions onto an unsuspecting victim usually because they themselves have not dealt with childhood wounds that are now causing them to harm others.
In the following areas, ask these questions to see if you are abusing or being abused:
- Humiliation, degradation, discounting, negating. judging, criticizing:
- Does anyone make fun of you or put you down in front of others?
- Do they tease you, use sarcasm as a way to put you down or degrade you?
- When you complain do they say that “it was just a joke” and that you are too sensitive?
- Do they tell you that your opinion or feelings are “wrong?”
- Does anyone regularly ridicule, dismiss, disregard your opinions, thoughts, suggestions, and feelings?
- Domination, control, and shame:
- Do you feel that the person treats you like a child?
- Do they constantly correct or chastise you because your behavior is “inappropriate?”
- Do you feel you must “get permission” before going somewhere or before making even small decisions?
- Do they control your spending?
- Do they treat you as though you are inferior to them?
- Do they make you feel as though they are always right?
- Do they remind you of your shortcomings?
- Do they belittle your accomplishments, your aspirations, your plans or even who you are?
- Do they give disapproving, dismissive, contemptuous, or condescending looks, comments, and behavior?
- Accusing and blaming, trivial and unreasonable demands or expectations, denies own shortcomings:
- Do they accuse you of something contrived in their own minds when you know it isn’t true?
- Are they unable to laugh at themselves?
- Are they extremely sensitive when it comes to others making fun of them or making any kind of comment that seems to show a lack of respect?
- Do they have trouble apologizing?
- Do they make excuses for their behavior or tend to blame others or circumstances for their mistakes?
- Do they call you names or label you?
- Do they blame you for their problems or unhappiness?
- Do they continually have “boundary violations” and disrespect your valid requests?
- Emotional distancing and the “silent treatment,” isolation, emotional abandonment or neglect:
- Do they use pouting, withdrawal or withholding attention or affection?
- Do they not want to meet the basic needs or use neglect or abandonment as punishment?
- Do they play the victim to deflect blame onto you instead of taking responsibility for their actions and attitudes?
- Do they not notice or care how you feel?
- Do they not show empathy or ask questions to gather information?
- Codependence and enmeshment:
- Does anyone treat you not as a separate person but instead as an extension of themselves?
- Do they not protect your personal boundaries and share information that you have not approved?
- Do they disrespect your requests and do what they think is best for you?
- Do they require continual contact and haven’t developed a healthy support network among their own peers?