Initially, the abuse usually is an attempt by one partner to exert control through intimidation, fear, verbal abuse or threats of violence. Victims of domestic violence may be isolated from friends, family and neighbors and lose their network of social support. With time, the abusive partner, or batterer, may use increasingly severe methods to maintain control. Eventually the violence may lead to serious injury and can result in hospitalization, or death.
Domestic violence robs victims of their fundamental right to maintain control over their own lives. Individuals who are abused live in fear and isolation in the one place they should always feel safe, their home. With tremendous courage and strength, they struggle each day to keep themselves and their children safe.
Child abuse and domestic violence often occur in the same family. Researchers have found that 50 percent to 70 percent of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children.
Children are 1,500 times more likely to be abused in homes where partner abuse occurs. Domestic violence may result in physical injury, psychological harm or neglect of children. There is a definite relationship between family violence and juvenile delinquency. These children have a six times greater chance of committing suicide, 24 percent greater chance committing sexual assault crimes and a 50 percent greater likelihood of abusing drugs and alcohol.
One of the most tragic outcomes of domestic violence is that well more than half of the young men between the ages of 11 and 22 who are in jail for homicide have killed their mother’s batterer. Children growing up in violent homes do not need to be physically abused to take on violent and delinquent behavior-it is enough to witness their mother’s abuse.
Signs of Abuse
Individuals involved in an ongoing abusive relationship are more likely to have multiple injuries, repeated bruises and broken bones. They are more likely to have frequent doctor visits, frequent headaches, chronic generalized pain, pelvic pain, frequent vaginal and urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal (stomach and intestine) problems and eating disorders. They may also exhibit more physical symptoms related to stress, anxiety disorders or depression. The locations of injuries in women most commonly include the head, chest, breasts and arms. During pregnancy, the most common locations are the abdomen and the breast.
Are You a Victim?
If you answer yes to any of the questions below, you may be a victim of domestic violence.
1. Are you in a relationship in which you have been physically hurt or threatened by your partner?
2. Has your partner ever hurt your pets or destroyed your clothing, objects in your home or something special to you?
3. Has your partner ever threatened or abused your children?
4. Has you partner ever forced you to have sex when you did not want to or does your partner ever force you to engage in sex that makes you feel uncomfortable?
5. Do you ever feel afraid of your partner?
6. Has your partner ever prevented you from leaving the house, seeing friends, getting a job or continuing your education?
7. Has your partner ever used or threatened to use a weapon against you?
8. Does your partner constantly criticize you and call you names?