"I had a fight with ______________________ last night." These words mean many different things to different people. There are those who know how to communicate and a "fight" is simply a discussion where each of the participants takes a stand and does not want to give in to the other. But there are those who know nothing about communication. These "fights" are filled with destructive criticism, foul and untrue accusations or very physical - much like the fights you see on television in the westerns when two cowboys go to blows with fists, furniture, clubs, knives, guns and anything else that is available. The aggressor can be male or female. We hear more about the women being abused because statistics show that men are most often the aggressor. When women strike a man they are usually defending themself. Given the difference in body size and the ability to inflict harm, few women would ever take on a man.
So just what is this domestic violence? This abuse? According to the Attorney General's office of the 6th Judicial District of the State of Tennessee:
"It (family violence) is any physical or emotional act committed by one person to exercise power and control over another person within a family type environment. This includes any offensive and harmful touching as well as any verbal threats to do harm."
Domestic violence and abuse are not limited to the physical attacks. Rarely does one attack another out of the blue, with no warning that anything was wrong with the relationship. I am talking about verbal abuse, put downs and complaints about behavior. Verbal attacks at the self-esteem and demands to do things that are degrading in nature. Threats of violence against a person or their children or their belongings. Intimidation. A slow and methodical killing of the spirit.
- The abuser may keep the victim from getting or keeping a job.
- The abuser gets the victim in trouble at work by calling throughout the day
- The abuser comes to work and gets the victim into trouble
- The abuser causes the victim to miss work
- The abuser refuses to let the victim leave the house
- The abuser has left bruises and the victim is embarrased to go to work
- The abuser does not let the victim have transportation
- The abuser may keep control of the money:
- The abuser makes the victim ask for money
- The abuser gives the victim an allowance and then monitors the spending.
- The abuser may not let the victim know about or have access to the family money.
Although the signs of emotional abuse are very difficult to see, this abuse can be far more damaging, devasting to the victim. Emotional abuse can control the decisions of the victim long after the abuser is out of the picture. Without counseling the victim may never recover from this form of abuse.
- Emotional abuse involves intimidation, coercion and threats:
- The abuser threatens to physically hurt the victim
- The abuser threatens to leave
- The abuser threatens to take away the children
- The abuser threastens to report the victim to different authorities
- The abuser threatens to take or break the victim's belongings
- The abuser threatens to commit suicide
- The abuser threatens to cut off finances
- The abuser hurts or kills pets
- The abuser displays weapons
- The abuser hurts themself
- The abuser makes the victim do illegal things
- The abuser isolates the victim:
- The abuser controls what the victim does
- The abuser controls who the victim sees and talks to
- The abuser controls what the victim watches and reads
- The abuser controls where the victim goes
- The abuser controls the victim outside involvement
- The abuser calls home throughout the day to make sure the victim has not left the house
- The abuser uses "male privelege":
- The abuser treats the victim like a servant
- The abuser makes all the big decisions
- The abuser defines the role of the wife and husband
- The abuser acts like the "master" of the castle
- The abuser denies responsibility:
- The abuser makes light of the abuse
- The abuser does not take the victims concerns seriously
- The abuser denies the abuse happened
- The abuser blames the victim for the abuse, saying "you made me" do it
This is the easiest type of abuse to identify because it usually, but not always, leaves visible signs on the victim. Many victims are treated in the emergency room but are afraid to tell how they got hurt.
- The abuser uses their body to bump into the victim
- The abuser grabs at and yanks on the victim
- The abuser hits, kicks, pushes, pulls out hair of the victim
- The abuser uses objects to hit the victim
- The abuser uses "lethal" weapons (knives, guns) to hurt the victim
- The abuser forces the victim to do things she/he does not like
- The abuser forces the victim to have sex against their will
- The abuser attacks, verbally and physically, the sexual parts of the victims body
- The abuser treats the victim like a sex object
- The abuser puts down the victim
- The abuser calls the victim names
- The abuser uses loud voices and screaming to intimidate the victim
- The abuser uses foul language
- Some of the things that are verbal abuse are also emotional abuse.
- The abuser humiliates the victim in public
- The abuser tries to make the victim think they are crazy by using lies
- The abuser accuses the victim of having affairs
- The abuser tells the victim they do not know how to do things correctly
- The abuser denies saying things when the victim wants to talk about them later
"Go to your bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William Shakespeare
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