“They Never Hit Me”
If you were never physically hurt, are you really in need of support or help? My situation isn’t that bad because my partner has never hit me before… Comments and questions like these are common and we want to talk about what domestic violence is and that it can look very different from relationship to relationship. Maybe you have never been hit by your partner, but you have questioned the behaviors of your partner or a loved one’s partner.
Domestic abuse is defined as a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that is a pervasive life-threatening crime affecting people in all our communities regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, social standing, and immigration status.
Domestic abuse is all about power and control. Abusers act in different ways to keep power over their partners. Domestic abuse can take many forms and often is a combination of different tactics that build up and result in physical abuse. We are going to go into some of the forms that domestic abuse can take to shine a light on the fact that domestic violence is NOT just physical.
Financial abuse is a way to control the victim through the manipulation of economic resources. Ways that a partner can implement financial abuse include;
- Gives you “allowances” or “budgets” without your input
- Requiring you to account for everything you spend
- Pressures you to quit your job or sabotages your work responsibilities
- Spends your money without your knowledge
- Controls how all of the household finances are spent
- Limits your ability to attend job training, pursue higher education, or otherwise advance your career
- Limits your access to your own bank account or mutual bank accounts
- Lives in your home without working or helping with household tasks
- Maxes out credit cards in your name (and then doesn’t make payments on those credit cards)
- Threatens to cut you off financially when you disagree
- Uses funds from children’s savings account without mutual agreement
- Prevents you from working by hiding your keys, or offering to babysit and then not showing up
- Engages in other forms of abuse like belittling or physical abuse when they get angry over your spending habits
Digital abuse is extremely common in abusive relationships and is used as a way to control, monitor, and harass victims. Digital abuse can include;
- Tracking devices to monitor where you go
- Monitoring your activity on your cell phone, tablet or computer
- Using technology to impersonate someone
- Sending harassing or threatening messages
- Controlling your home environment through smart home technology (heating/cooling, locks, controlling what you watch on TV, turning off the lights, etc), and much more.
Emotional abuse is any behavior that exploits another’s vulnerability, insecurity, or character. Such behaviors include continuous degradation, intimidation, manipulation, brainwashing, or control of another to the detriment of the individual.
- Rejection: Constantly rejecting your thoughts, ideas, and opinions.
- Gaslighting: making you doubt your own feelings and thoughts, and even your sanity, by manipulating the truth.
- Put-downs: calling you names or telling you that you’re stupid, publicly embarrassing you, blaming you for everything. Public humiliation is also a form of social abuse.
- Causing fear: making you feel afraid, intimidated or threatened.
- Isolation: limiting your freedom of movement, stopping you from contacting other people (such as friends or family). It may also include stopping you from doing the things you normally do – social activities, sports, school or work.
- Bullying and intimidation: purposely and repeatedly saying or doing things that are intended to hurt you.
Verbal abuse is any abusive language used to denigrate, embarrass or threaten the victim. This may include but is not limited to:
- Threatening to hurt or kill the victim or her children, family, pets, property or reputation.
- Name-calling (‘ugly’, ‘bitch’, ‘whore’, or ‘stupid’)
- Telling victims they’re is unattractive or undesirable.
- Yelling, screaming, rampaging, terrorizing or refusing to talk
Social abuse includes cruel treatment such as public humiliation, threats, intimidation, and gossip. It may also include joking at your expense, constant heckling or teasing in public to provoke your anger, and tickling, touching, kissing, or other forms of physical acts that you have asked your partner to refrain from in public. Social abuse is one of the most nebulous forms of abuse. It is difficult to define and is easy to excuse or brush aside. You must consider each instance of abuse not in isolation, but rather as part of a bigger picture. Socially abusive behaviors include;
- Gossips or spread rumors about you
- Monitors your social activities
- Treats you disrespectfully in front of others
- Tells secrets or embarrassing stories about you
- Refuses to socialize with your family or friends
- Refuses to let you work outside the home
- Demands that you account for all your time with social contacts
- Controls who you can visit and when
- Alienates you from your family and friends
- Demands you move away from friends and a supportive environment
Sexual abuse is using sex in an exploitative fashion or forcing sex on another person. Having consented to sexual activity in the past does not indicate current consent. Sexual abuse may involve both verbal and physical behavior. Sexual abuse includes:
- Deliberately causing pain during sex
- Assaulting the genitals
- Forced sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Forcing someone to perform sexual acts
- Using sexually degrading insults
- Unwanted touching
- Unwanted exposure to pornography
- Sexual jokes
- Withholding sex as punishment
- Using sex to coerce compliance
Physical abuse is any physically aggressive behavior, withholding of physical needs, indirect physically harmful behavior, or threat of physical abuse. Examples of this include but are not limited to:
- Hitting, kicking, biting, slapping, shaking, pushing, pulling, punching, choking, beating, scratching, pinching, pulling hair, stabbing, shooting, drowning, burning, hitting with an object, threatening with a weapon, or threatening to physically assault.
- Withholding of physical needs including interruption of sleep or meals, denying money, food, transportation, or help if sick or injured, locking victim into or out of the house, refusing to give or rationing necessities.
- Abusing, injuring, or threatening to injure others like children, pets, or special property.
- Forcible physical restraint against their will, being trapped in a room or having the exit blocked, being held down.
- The abuser hitting or kicking walls, doors, or other inanimate objects during an argument, throwing things in anger, destruction of property.
- Holding the victim hostage.
If you feel that you are in an unhealthy relationship and want help navigating your situation or if you know a loved one that may be in an unhealthy situation and want to know what you can do to support them – give us a call. Our advocates are here 24/7 to answer your call and questions. Give our 24/7 helpline a call at 920-832-1667.