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No matter who you are
Survivors of intimate partner violence are overwhelmingly female. Abuse can impact your job, housing, food security, and health. You are not alone. All cultural, religious, socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds are affected by domestic violence.
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical.
Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe.
Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, you can get the help you need.
It is still abuse if…
The incidents of physical abuse seem minor when compared to those you have read about, seen on television, or heard other women talk about. There isn’t a “better” or “worse” form of physical abuse; you can be severely injured as a result of being pushed, for example.
The incidents of physical abuse have only occurred one or two times in the relationship. Studies indicate that if your spouse/partner has injured you once, it is likely he will continue to physically assault you.
The physical assaults stopped when you became passive and gave up your right to express yourself as you desire, to move about freely and see others, and to make decisions. It is not a victory if you have to give up your rights as a person and a partner in exchange for not being assaulted!
There has not been any physical violence. Many women are emotionally and verbally assaulted. This can be as equally frightening and is often more confusing to try to understand.
It doesn't simply go away
What can I do?
If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out.
- Stay safe. Make a plan for you, your children, and pets.
- Seek the support of caring people. Tell someone you trust about the abuse. They may be your friend, a family member, a neighbor, a co-worker, or staff members of support agencies. Talk to them in a private, safe place. You do not need to face abuse alone.
- If you have a protection order, keep it with you at all times.
- Document abusive incidents.
- Contact DOVE or another domestic violence agency.
Know this about people with abusive behaviors.
Abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims.
Abusers pick and choose whom to abuse. They don’t insult, threaten, or assault everyone in their life who gives them grief. Usually, they save their abuse for the people closest to them, the ones they claim to love.
Abusers carefully choose when and where to abuse. They control themselves until no one else is around to see their abusive behavior. They may act like everything is fine in public, but lash out instantly as soon as you’re alone.
Abusers are able to stop their abusive behavior when it benefits them. Most abusers are not out of control. In fact, they’re able to immediately stop their abusive behavior when it’s to their advantage to do so (for example, when the police show up or their boss calls).