CITIZENS AGAINST SPOUSE ABUSE, INC.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS
Domestic violence has certain similarities to other forms of family violence; such as child abuse, child-to-parent violence, sibling violence or elderly abuse; it has certain unique characteristics that make it distinct. Domestic violence distorts what is supposed to be a partnership based on mutual respect. Neither partner has a legitimate role in disciplining or controlling the other. When domestic violence permeates a relationship, the abuser and victim no longer share equal rights and responsibilities within the partnership.
THE ROLE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROGRAMS
There are more than 100 domestic violence shelters and support programs throughout Missouri; however, fewer than half of the state's 114 counties have emergency shelters. Consequently, domestic violence program staff are accustomed to using creative and inventive approaches to providing services in a variety of settings. Most women don't need emergency shelter, but they do need someone to talk to beyond office hours. Almost all can benefit from the common ground found in a support group.
The majority of domestic violence shelters and service providers have toll-free numbers that allow them to serve multiple counties so they can help create safety plans, offer support, and provide court advocacy and other resource information - even from a distance. Some programs have outreach staff who can work with victims to make plans for obtaining services in their communities. When working to meet the needs of women and their children, there is more to be gained by working together than anyone can do by working alone.
FOUR TYPES OF ABUSE
Abuse can take on many forms. Some types are more subtle than others and might never be seen or felt by anyone other than the woman experiencing the abuse. The abuser uses a combination of tactics that work to control the victim. The abuse also usually increases in frequency and severity over time
Physical abuse is easier to recognize and understand than other types of abuse. It can be indicated when the batterer:
- Scratches, bites, grabs or spits at a current or former intimate partner.
- Shakes, shoves, pushes, restrains or throws her.
- Twists, slaps, punches, strangles or burns the victim.
- Throws objects at her.
- Subjects her to reckless driving.
- Locks her in or out of the house.
- Refuses to help when she’s sick, injured or pregnant, or withholds medication or treatment.
- Withholds food as punishment.
- Abuses her at mealtime, which disrupts eating patterns and can result in malnutrition.
- Abuses her at night, which disrupts sleeping patterns and can result in sleep deprivation.
- Attacks her with weapons or kills her.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND ABUSE
Sexual violence and abuse can be extraordinarily difficult for victims to talk about because of the ways in which this type of violence often is perpetrated. Sexual violence or abuse can be indicated when the batterer:
- Is jealously angry and assumes she will have sex with anyone.
- Withholds sex and affection as punishment.
- Calls her sexual names.
- Pressures her to have sex when she doesn’t want to.
- Insists that his partner dress in a more sexual way than she wants.
- Coercers sex by manipulation or threats.
- Physically forces sex or is sexually violent.
- Coerces her into sexual acts that she is uncomfortable with, such as sex with a third party, physically painful sex, sexual activity she finds offensive or verbal degradation during sex.
- Inflicts injuries that are sex-specific.
- Denies the victim contraception or protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
It is the abuser’s use of physical and sexual force or threats that gives power to his psychologically abusive acts. Psychological abuse becomes an effective weapon in controlling a victim, because she knows through experience that her abuser will at times back up the threats or taunts with physical assaults. Psychological abuse can be indicated when the batterer:
- Breaks promises, doesn’t follow through on agreements or doesn’t take a fair share of responsibility.
- Verbally attacks and humiliates his partner in private or public.
- Attacks her vulnerabilities, such as her language abilities, educational level, skills as a parent, religious and cultural beliefs or physical appearance.
- Plays mind games, such as when he denies requests he has made previously or when he undercuts her sense of reality.
- Forces her to do degrading things.
- Ignores her feelings.
- Withholds approval or affection as punishment.
- Regularly threatens to leave or tells his partner to leave.
- Harasses her about affairs he imagines her to be having.
- Stalks her.
- Always claims to be right.
- Is unfaithful after committing to monogamy.
Economic abuse can be indicated when the batterer:
- Controls all the money
- Doesn’t let her work outside the home or sabotages her attempts to work or go to school.
- Refuses to work and makes her support the family.
- Ruins her credit rating.
QUIZ: How is your Relationship?(click here to take quiz)
PERSONAL SAFETY TIPS:
No one deserves to be abused. If things get out of hand, it's good to have a plan!
WHEN A FIGHT BREAKS OUT
- Move away from the kitchen, bathroom, or anyplace where there are dangerous sharp objects.
- Plan the easiest escape. Decide on a door or window to exit quickly and safely.
- Find a neighbor, friend, or family member you can trust to help you and your children, or to call police.
IF YOU DECIDE TO LEAVE YOUR PARTNER, PLAN FOR SAFETY
- Every situation is different! Contact us for information on how to plan for safety. Leaving may be risky for you and your children.
- Put some money away. Even if you only save a little bit every week, you need to have some money of your own.
- Make copies of keys and important papers and leave them with a friend, neighbor, or church. Some important items to have: Birth Certificates, Legal Papers, A little money, special toys.
WAYS TO STAY SAFE ON YOUR OWN
- Change the locks on your doors.
- Learn about your legal rights. If you have legal papers to protect you, keep them with you at all times.
- Tell neighbors, friends, landlords or coworkers that your partner no longer lives with you. Keep a safety plan for coming and going, and share it with people you trust. Teach your children about the safety plan.
- If your former partner is dangerous, find someone at work to tell. Show a picture, and ask them to call 911 if your former partner comes around.
- If you need other ideas or a local referral, call us.