Domestic violence, also known as DV, domestic abuse, spousal abuse or intimate partner violence (IPV), can be broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends or cohabitation.
Domestic violence has many forms including physical aggression (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation.
Alcohol consumption and mental illness can be co-morbid with abuse and present additional challenges when present alongside patterns of abuse.
What is Abuse?
Abuse is defined as the systematic pattern of behaviors in a relationship that are used to gain and/or maintain power and control over another. When one defines domestic violence in terms of physical abuse only they do not fully understand the dynamics that keep these relationships together. There are four main types of abuse:
The cycle of violence has three phases
Signs to look for:
Jealousy, Controlling Behavior, Quick Involvement, Unrealistic Expectations, Isolation, Blame for Problems and Feelings, Hypersensitivity, Cruelty to Animals and Children, Playful Use of Force in Sex, Severe Mood Swings
Why You May Stay
- Economic dependence
- Fear of greater physical danger to themselves and children
- Fear of emotional damage to children
- Fear of losing custody of children
- Lack of alternative help and housing
- Lack of job skills
- Social isolation resulting in lack of support from family and friends
- Fear of involvement in court processes
- Cultural and religious constraints
- Fear of retaliation
Are Children Aware of Abuse in the Home?
YES – They know. They see, they hear and they feel.
More than half of all shelter residents are children. The majority of women using shelters bring their children for the sake of safety. Children often hold themselves responsible for the violence and for their mothers’ safety. The majority of batterers were battered as children and/or witnessed domestic violence.
Many girls tend to learn a response of passivity like their mothers and many boys tend to identify with the aggressor and bully and/or inflict violence on their peers and siblings. One hundred percent of children in violent homes hear screams, threats, bumps, or glass breaking; 100% see the after-effects of broken object, black eyes, or blood. Child witnesses often feel ambivalence and conflict toward the perpetrator; the child both loves the person and hates his or her behavior.
The Effects on Children
These incredible beautiful children learn to accept violence as a means of conflict resolution and to maintain control of others by using threats. They learn that loved ones have the right to hurt one another. Many feel angry toward one or both parents -the abuser for doing so and the woman for staying and accepting.
- They have sleep disturbances such as bed-wetting problems
- Having difficulties in school, with work, or peers
- Often confuse love and violence
- They are identified as “at risk”
- Poor or no self-esteem
- Have sense of complete powerlessness – low expectations of themselves
- Difficulty expressing themselves or look one in the eye
- Mixed emotions of hope and despair
- Tend to use negative behaviors to get attention – tantrums
- Live in constant fear of being hurt, or tend to hurt themselves
- Are unable to communicate their feelings in a healthy way
- Learn poor problem solving skills and are unable to control their anger and impulses
- Tend to resort to force or violence when frustrated
- Have poor sense of personal boundaries
- Lack respect for others peoples’ privacy and belongings
- May exhibit post-traumatic stress disorders such as: avoidance, increased arousal, social withdrawal
- Demonstrate disruptive behaviors such as aggression or depression