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Domestic Violence: Recognizing Abuse
What Is Domestic Violence?
- Stage 1—Tension builds. The abuser may criticize and threaten the victim.
- Stage 2—The abuser becomes physically violent and/or emotionally abusive.
- Stage 3—The abuser apologizes, promises to change, and may seem very loving. Although the apologies and apparent acts of love may offer hope that things will change, the cycle of violence almost always starts again. It does not end until the abuser seeks help and makes a concerted effort to change or the victim leaves.
Who Is Affected?
What Are the Characteristics of an Abuser?
- Being possessive and jealous of any other relationships their partner has
- Wanting to exert control to keep their partner from leaving
- Being verbally and/or physically hurtful
- Blaming others for their problems
- Being moody and explosive (eg, quickly moving between abusive and loving)
What Are the Common Signs of Abuse?
- Hitting, shoving, punching, kicking, choking
- Throwing or destroying things
- Blocking you from leaving the room or house
- Subjecting you to reckless driving
- Threatening or hurting you with a weapon
- Insulting, blaming, criticizing, name-calling
- Humiliating you in public
- Accusing you of having affairs
- Controlling all the money and making you account for every penny
- Telling you what to do, where to go, and who you can see
- Threatening or hurting your children
- Unwanted touching or sexual comments
- Calling you sexual names, such as "slut" or "frigid"
- Forcing you to have sex
- Attacking your sexual body parts or hurting you during sex
Are You or Is Someone You Know Being Abused?
- Does your partner shove, hit, shake, or slap you?
- Does your partner make light of the abuse, insist that it did not happen, or shift the responsibility for his abusive behavior, blaming you for it?
- Does your partner continually put you down, call you names, or humiliate you?
- Does your partner intimidate you through looks or actions, destroy your property, or display weapons?
- Does your partner control what you do, who you see and talk to, and where you go, limiting your involvement outside the relationship?
- Are you made to feel guilty about the children, or has your partner threatened to take the children away?
- Does she appear anxious, depressed, withdrawn, and reluctant to talk?
- Does her partner criticize her in front of you, making remarks that make you feel uncomfortable when you are around the two of them?
- Do you see or hear about repeated bruises, broken bones, or other injuries that reportedly result from "accidents"?
- Does her partner try to control her every move, make her account for her time, and accuse her of having affairs?
- Is she often late or absent from work, has she quit a job altogether, or does she leave social engagements early because her partner is waiting for her?
How Are Children Affected?
What Kinds of Help Are Available?
How Do You Plan for Your Safety?
- Set up a signal with your neighbors so they can call the police if you are in danger.
- Get a restraining order if you need legal protection to keep your abuser away from you.
- Plan an escape route and a safe place to go, such as to relatives, friends, or a domestic violence shelter.
- Important phone numbers and phone calling card
- Money, checkbook, ATM, and credit cards
- Driver's license
- Keys for home, car, and office
- Important papers for you and your children, including birth certificates
- Social security cards, health insurance cards, and medical and school records
- Restraining order and information—including photographs—that will document past abuse
- Change of clothes
- Children's favorite toys/blankets
Family Violence Prevention Fund http://www.fvpf.org/
The National Domestic Violence Hotline http://www.ndvh.org/
Domestic Abuse Must Stop http://www.domesticabusemuststop.org/
Safe Canada http://www.safecanada.ca/
Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence, The Facts: An Information Handbook. Boston, MA: Peace At Home, Inc.
12/11/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Ackerson LK, Subramanian SV. Intimate partner violence and death among infants and children in India. Pediatrics. 2009;124(5):e878-89.