Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically, however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.
The following information is from www.NCADV.org
Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death. The devastating physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.
Anyone can be an abuser. They come from all groups, all cultures, all religions, all economic levels, and all backgrounds. They can be your neighbor, your pastor, your friend, your child’s teacher, a relative, a coworker — anyone. It is important to note that the majority of abusers are only violent with their current or past intimate partners. One study found 90% of abusers do not have criminal records and abusers are generally law-abiding outside the home.
There is no one typical, detectable personality of an abuser. However, they do often display common characteristics.
Red flags and warning signs of an abuser include but are not limited to:
Myth: Domestic violence occurs in only certain ethnic, racial, or socioeconomic groups.
Fact: Domestic abuse crosses all religious, racial, ethnic, educational, and socioeconomic lines. No group is immune.
Myth: Survivors of domestic violence are usually uneducated and have few job skills.
Fact: A survivor may be well educated, have a good job, and be battered. Neither education nor earning ability is protection against abuse.
Myth: Strong religious beliefs will prevent abuse.
Fact: Many deeply religious individuals abuse their partners. Indeed, some religions implicitly hold women to be of less value than men, and some consider wives to be the property of their husbands. This concept of privileged ownership can lead to controlling behavior and many types of abuse.
Myth: All victims of domestic violence have pre-existing deep psychological problems.
Fact: Repeated batterings and the ensuing feelings of fear and helplessness can cause victims to suffer from the effects of trauma.
Myth: Drinking and/or drug abuse cause battering and abuse.
Fact: Alcohol and drugs do not cause abusive behavior. They may, however, provide an excuse for perpetrators to explain away their actions. Individuals who abuse their partners while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are also very likely to have done so when they are sober. There are many perpetrators who do not drink or use drugs at all.
Myth: A domestic violence perpetrator does not love his partner.
Fact: Domestic abuse does not occur because there is no love in a relationship. It occurs when the relationship is out of balance, when one partner assumes a disproportionate share of power and control. In a healthy relationship, the feelings, needs obligations and goals of each partner are considered. Equality in a relationship is based upon mutual consideration and respect. When only one partner is making the concessions, adjusting for the feelings of the other and putting her own needs second to the desires of her partner, the prerequisites for an abusive relationship are in place.
Myth: A perpetrator will stop being violent after he gets married or "settles down."
Fact: If an individual is abusive or violent before marriage, the abuse and violence may actually intensify after marriage. When a perpetrator marries, he considers his partner to be his "possession." Once she/he is legally bound to him, his control over her/him is sanctified by some religions and reinforced by some laws. Not that long ago, domestic violence was not considered a crime. Beating your spouse was considered a "family dispute."
Myth: Abuse tapers off as people grow old.
Fact: Abuse does not necessarily abate or end with advancing age. Battering and physical abuse may decrease due to the waning strength of the batterer, but psychological and emotional abuse rarely end, and may actually intensify. In some instances, physical abuse may actually begin during the retirement years.
Myth: Children need their father even if he is violent.
Fact: Children who grow up in violent households have a substantially greater incidence of alcohol and drug abuse, juvenile delinquency and anti-social behavior than do children from non-violent homes. Children from violent homes are physically abused or seriously neglected at a rate 15 times greater than that of the general population. Boys who witness their fathers abuse their mothers are likely to be abusive in their own adult intimate relationships. Girls from abusive homes may be more likely to enter into abusive relationships themselves, as this is the only kind of relationship they know.
Myth: The police and the courts can always protect victims of domestic violence.
Fact: There is no way a victim of domestic violence can be guaranteed protection from an abuser. Victims have been severely injured or killed by partners against whom they held restraining orders. Even incarcerating the abuser may not keep a victim safe; the perpetrator may have friends or relatives continue the abuse. A victim may have few resources. She/he may have little or no say in the family’s finances, and may not have access to money. The car, credit cards, checking and savings accounts may all be under the partner’s control. The victim may be isolated or estranged from family and friends. There may be nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help.
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