October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and domestic violence (DV) or intimate partner violence (IPV) are topics that hit some of us at The Therapy Room pretty hard. Several of us are survivors of domestic violence and we celebrate our survival by creating awareness about domestic violence in all its forms.
This month’s theme is #Every1KnowsSome1 and the goal is to highlight how common domestic violence is, and that its more than physical violence. This year’s Week of Action is October 17-23 and the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) has actions planned for each day of that week. More information can be found at https://nnedv.org/content/week-action-2022/
There are many different types of DV/IPV, which we’d like to talk about below. More information and resources can be found at https://nnedv.org/ by clicking the “About DV” tab.
Physical Abuse: Physical abuse is a way an abusive person keeps their partner under control. It may or may not be part of an abusive relationship. Physical abuse typically gets worse over time. It may include hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, strangling, smothering, using or threatening to use weapons, shoving, interrupting your sleep, throwing things, destroying property, hurting and killing pets, and denying medical treatment.
Sexual Abuse: This is common in abusive relationships but is often the least discussed type. It leaves the victim with feelings of shame and humiliation. It may include physically forcing sex, making you feel fearful about saying no to sex, forcing sex with other partners, forcing you to participate in demeaning or degrading sex acts, violence or name calling during sex, and denying contraception or protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
Emotional Abuse: This type occurs in some form in all abusive relationships. It a very effective way to establish and maintain control and cause extreme damage to the victim’s self-esteem. It leads to the victim feeling responsible for the abuse and feeling crazy, worthless, and hopeless. Many survivors state that they’d rather “be hit” than endure emotional abuse.
Types of emotional abuse include constant put downs or criticisms, name calling, acting superior, minimizing the abuse or blaming you for their behavior, threatening and making you feel fearful, isolating you from family and friends, excessive jealousy, accusing you of having affairs, and watching where you go and who you talk to.
Financial Abuse: This form is one of the least commonly known but most effective tactics for entrapping a victim in a relationship. Many victims state this is the reason they stay in or go back to an abusive relationship. It may include giving you an allowance, not letting you have your own money, hiding family assets, running up debt, interfering with your job, or ruining your credit.
One of the most common forms of emotional abuse is called gaslighting. It has recently become a “buzzword” because more people are realizing they’re experienced gaslighting and are more openly sharing their experiences. Abusers use gaslighting to make their victims believe they are responsible for the abuse they experience. Abusers confuse their victims and shift blame onto them. This makes the victim believe the abuse is their fault or that they deserve it. It also causes victims to wonder if the abuse was real or if it happened the way they remember it happening. It causes victims to doubt their own lived experiences and not trust their memories. Victims might even begin to doubt their sanity and since they feel like they can’t trust their memories, they might feel powerless to stop the abuse. We want to be very clear: The abuse you experienced is never your fault.
We’d also like to take a moment to acknowledge some facts about DV/IPV. It happens regardless of age, economic status, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ability level, or education level. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. While 82% of victims of domestic, dating, and sexual violence victims were women, stereotypes that only women can be victims of domestic violence discriminate against men, the trans community, and the nonbinary community, and discourage these populations from reporting their abuse experiences. Domestic violence programs serve these communities and offer resources for support to them.
There is also a multitude of information available about the legal system in your state and how it can help domestic abuse victims available at https://www.womenslaw.org/ You can also find resources such as the Danger Assessment, which can help you determine if your experiences are because you’re being abused. You can also find out more information about the forms of abuse, abuse in specific communities, and safety tips for various topics.
To survivors of domestic violence: We see you. We hear you. We believe you. We stand with you.