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May 14, 2012

What is Domestic Violence?

Definitions and Descriptions:

Domestic Violence:

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one individual to control or exert power over another individual in the context of an intimate relationship.

Domestic violence typically increases in frequency and severity over time. It often begins as psychological abuse and escalates to physical abuse. Many victims state that the emotional abuse is far more devastating than physical abuse because it leads to incapacitating feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.



Physical Abuse:
The most visible form of violence. It ranges from actions like punching, slapping, pinching, pushing, pulling hair, choking, holding down, hitting with objects, dragging, throwing inanimate objects at, backhanding, using weapons, kicking, breaking bones; denying sleep, nutrition and medical care; causing internal or permanent injury; using household objects as weapons; to the extreme action of murder. Sexual abuse is a specific part of physical abuse.

Sexual Abuse/Violence:
All of these are forms of rape: making her do sexual things against her will, physically attacking the sexual parts of her body, treating her like a sex object, threatening her if she won't submit to sex, talking about her in a sexual way to others.

Emotional Abuse:
It is used to render a person helpless and dependent on the abuser. The use of derogatory and degrading names; belittling her feelings, opinions or reactions; playing mind games; humiliating her; making her feel guilty for not being "good enough" for not making the abuser happy or causing the violence; telling her she's a bad mother, wife, woman, etc.; stopping her from doing what she needs to do or wants to do herself; telling her how to dress, look or act; threats of physical/sexual abuse; denial of the victim’s feelings and abilities; putting the victim down; making the victim think she is crazy; always wrong or stupid; blaming the victim for the violence; and accusations of promiscuity represent the behavior of the emotional abuser.

Minimizing, Lying and Blaming:
Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously. Saying the abuse didn't happen. Saying she caused/deserved/provoked it. Shifting responsibility for your violence and abusive behavior. "She made me do it." "I didn't hit her hard." "She should have just shut up." "It was her own fault. "I had to teach her a lesson." "I was drunk." "I was abused as a child; I can't help it."

Using the Children:
Making her feel guilty about the children and that she's a bad mother. Using the children to relay messages. Using visitation and custody issues to harass or do violence to her. Threatening to take the children away. Promoting the idea that children are property and need a father (even if he's violent). Convincing her that he'll get custody if she leaves. Convincing the children that the violence is her fault, that she's stupid/sick/a bad woman.

Environmental Abuse:
It is at work when the victim is kept economically dependent on the abuser, imprisoned by geographic isolation, or denied any freedom. Destruction of the victim’s possessions, abuse of the children, and the driving away of friends and family fall into this category. When environmentally abused, the victim believes that she is paranoid, hysterical, psychotic, or suicidal/homicidal.

Economic Abuse:
Preventing her from working. Making her ask for money. Giving her an allowance. Taking her money. Not letting her know about or have access to family income. Making her prove how she spent money. Not paying child support.

Social Abuse:
This abuse may well be the covert form of violence that supports and reinforces the other three. Some areas of social abuse are rigid life roles imposed on men and women, limiting the expression of feelings to anger and depression, teaching that women are not as capable or as important as men and need to be protected and controlled. Social abuse exists in the family, the church, the school system, and the media. The police and legal system, medical system, social service, and the economic system also support social abuse by blaming victims and not responding to their request for help, not addressing their need for safety, and by undervaluing or exploiting women.

Cultural Abuse:
Misinterpreting culture to prove male superiority/female submission. Using relatives to beat her up.

Ritual Abuse:
Making prayers against her. Defining spirituality as masculine. Stopping her from practicing her ways. Using spiritual ways as a threat. Saying "God doesn't allow divorce." Saying her moon time makes her "dirty."

Using Male Privilege:
Treating her like a servant. Making all the big decisions alone. Acting like the "master of the castle." Defining men's and women's roles in a way that makes men superior and women inferior. Expecting her to always care take of you first. Not supporting her. Expecting no consequences for bad behavior.

Using Isolation:
Controlling what she does, whom she sees and talks to, what she reads. Limiting her outside involvement or activities by stopping her from using the car, always having the kids with her, make sharing money or giving her a guilt trip. Using jealousy to justify always knowing where she is or restricting her movements.

Using Intimidation:
Making her afraid by using looks, actions or gestures. Smashing things, putting holes in walls and destroying property. Abusing pets. Displaying weapons. Reminding her in any way how you have or can hurt her.

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