How to recognise domestic violence

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, refers to a pattern of abusive behaviours a person uses to gain power and control over another within an intimate relationship. It can take various forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse, control and psychological manipulation; it is not always physical, making it challenging to identify. It's worth examining the situation if something feels off or you question your self-worth.

Signs and patterns indicating domestic violence

Suppose you suspect someone is experiencing domestic violence. In that case, it is vital to offer support, listen non-judgmentally, and encourage them to seek help from professionals or helplines specialising in domestic violence.

Domestic violence causes immense harm, affecting the victim's physical and mental well-being. Recognising and addressing domestic violence is essential to ensure the safety and support of those affected. Recognising these signs is crucial to support victims and intervene in domestic violence situations effectively.

Physical signs

Unexplained injuries, bruises, or frequent visits to the hospital. Attempts to cover up traces of violence with, e.g. clothes and make-up.

Emotional signs

Constant fear, anxiety, sadness, low self-esteem, and feelings of helplessness. This may manifest as restlessness, flinching, and looking around as if they need to be constantly on their guard. They are not themselves; it may seem like they have lost their joy in life. In contrast, they might also be faking and pretending to be overly joyful.

Signs of isolation

The victim may be isolated from friends, family, or social activities by the abuser. The victim always has questionable excuses to cancel meetings or can never meet.

Control and manipulation

The abuser controls the victim's actions, finances, and daily life and decisions. The experiencer is unable or cannot make any decisions by themselves but has to ask permission from the partner.

Signs of verbal and psychological abuse

Constant criticism, insults, humiliation, and threats aimed at demeaning the victim. This can happen in private but also around other people aiming to humiliate the victim. The verbal abuse can be disguised as jokes. The victim might belittle themselves and be overly sensitive, even fearful of feedback.

Signs of sexual abuse

Non-consensual sexual acts, coercion, verbal harassment, unwanted and inappropriate touching, or forced sexual encounters.

Behavioural Changes:

Sudden withdrawal or isolation.

Fearful reactions to specific people or places.

Changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or excessive sleeping).

Emotional Changes:

Depression or mood swings.

Anxiety, panic attacks, or phobias.

Low self-esteem or self-worth.

Relationship Issues:

Difficulty trusting others.

Fear of intimacy or avoiding physical contact.

Difficulty forming or maintaining relationships.

Physical Signs:

Unexplained injuries or pain.

Sexualized behaviour or language that is inappropriate for their age.

Eating disorders or self-harm.

Psychological Symptoms:

Flashbacks, nightmares, or post-traumatic stress symptoms.

Memory gaps or difficulty concentrating.

Changes in Personal Hygiene:

Excessive washing or avoidance of personal hygiene.

Signs of financial abuse

The abuser may control the victim's finances, limit access to resources, or prevent them from working. It might be that the person under financial control never has money on them even if they work or have no reasonable reason not to have money. Or, they have to ask for money from their partner on their spending.

What is normal behaviour - what is not?

Having bad days, arguments, and disagreements is normal in a healthy relationship. However, it's important to understand that violence is never acceptable. Arguments can happen when emotions run high, but they differ from violence.

Arguments involve both parties expressing their opinions, while violence includes one person attacking the other. If you are afraid, have to constantly adjust your behaviour, or feel like you're walking on eggshells to avoid provocation, there might be violence in the relationship.

Remember, in a healthy relationship, there should be no fear or doubt about your self-worth. Violence has no place in fair and respectful arguments or disputes.

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