5 Things You Need To Know About Domestic Abuse

5 Things You Need to Know About Domestic Abuse

When it comes to understanding domestic violence, it can be surprisingly easy to fall prey to assumptions. We know that it occurs regularly, and most may even speculate that it happens more frequently than we might guess upon first thought.

We know that there’s almost always more to it than physical violence, and that escaping a domestic violence situation is far easier said and done. But for a lot of us who may not have experienced domestic abuse directly, that’s about as far as understanding goes.

Basic awareness is never a bad thing, of course. Where this issue is concerned, however, more is often required. A more thorough knowledge of domestic violence can lead you to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship and even to better understand the consequences that victims deal with every day, all around the world. So keeping that in mind, here are five things everyone should know about domestic abuse that some may not be aware of.

Domestic Abuse – What You Need to Know

  1. Abusers know what they’re doing.

    A few years ago Cosmopolitan wrote up a very interesting article about some of the most common misconceptions about domestic violence, and it’s well worth a thorough read. Perhaps the most interesting point therein was that we’ve sort of been conditioned to think of abusers as people who lose control or have fits of rage. That may be the case for individual instances of abuse but generally speaking, most abusers are in full control of their actions and are thus following patterns of behavior. This is important to understand because it indicates that abuse isn’t an aberration.

  2. Calling police is a first step.

    Another point made in the Cosmopolitan article was that many victims of abuse hesitate to call the police for various reasons. Some don’t want their partners arrested; some don’t believe the police can stop the violence; and some, particularly in LGBT relationships or in minority communities, even fear that the police will make things worse. These are legitimate concerns, and psychologically speaking they’re more than understandable. However, it’s important not to think of a call to the police as a potential solution, so much as a first step. As the article put it, police are simply the first responders. If they don’t help directly, they can put victims in touch with people and organizations that offer the proper support.

  3. Abuse can cause chronic illness.

    Too often, we fall into the habit of thinking of abuse as something that inflicts short-term physical harm and psychological consequences. But, as part of its effort to make an impact in healthcare, Verizon has pointed to a somewhat shocking problem related to domestic violence. Research indicates that it can actually cause chronic illness issues in victims. Examples include migraines, arthritis, and gastrointestinal disease, not to mention individual injuries that never fully heal. This is incredibly important to grasp as it speaks to the fact that people who suffer from domestic violence aren’t victims for a limited time. In many cases, the impacts can be permanent.

  4. Men can be affected too.

    It’s fair to say that domestic abuse is an issue that predominantly affects women. At the same time, however, it’s horribly misguided to hold men out of the conversation about victims altogether. Plenty of men experience relationship abuse (both physical and non-physical), not only from women but also from other men in gay relationships. All of the concerns in this article and in other conversations about this issue are applicable to men.

  5. Reading Help

    It may sound like a cliché, but staying informed about issues like this one can only help. Domestic-Violence-Law wrote up its own list of five things that it’s vital to know about domestic violence and included “the proliferation of knowledge, facts, information, support, and assistance” as a key point. That doesn’t mean that simply by reading this article you’ve prevented an incident of domestic violence or provided support for a victim. But this is certainly an issue that is best addressed through widespread understanding and awareness. The more you know about domestic violence, the better positioned you are to help when you do have an opportunity to do so.

Sadly, domestic abuse remains an incredibly common problem in society, and there are no sweeping solutions to be had. But as stated within the last point, education is a key part of the battle against abuse. The better we comprehend the ordeals of victims and the situations that lead to domestic violence, the more we can all do to help.


About the Author: Rachel Hodges

Rachel Hodges is a freelance writer and community organizer currently working on a project that aims to increase awareness about the widespread impact of domestic abuse. In her downtime, she enjoys reading, spending time friends and family, and training for her next 5K.

6 Comments

Pam

I feel there should be one more thing t o know about domestic violence. It doesn’t always mean you get battered physically. It’s also about mental abuse, which in a lot of ways can cause as much or even more long lasting scars. You can’t see them but they are there, and depending on how severe, they can affect you clear into your soul. It’s not easy to prove and I found out that although it is accepted as a form of abuse, there isn’t the protection aimed at it, as the physical. That’s why I thought that should belong here, it is time that it is recognize and treated nearly the same. It is hard to get help because you can’t prove the pain, if there are no bruises.

Reply
Victoria

Have studies been done on the long term effects of an abusive relationship, after the abuser is no longer in the picture?

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Hey Sigmund

What we know is that toxic stress can have long-term effects on the brain and body. The brain is very resilient though, and always open to change so if you have been in a toxic environment, it is vital that you do things that will take care of your brain. Things like exercise, meditation or mindfulness, social connection, sleep, and the right foods are all great for the brain and will help it to heal from toxic stress. Here is some information here https://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-stress/.

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Harley

The longitudinal Dunedin study in New Zealand showed that men and women abuse each other in equal numbers. While it’s “fair to say the domestic abuse is an issue that predominately affects women”, what was surprising to me was that this was because of hospitalisation rates not abuse rates.

Reply
Leigh

The reason being is that in most cases, men physically abusing women inflicts more serious physical injuries than when women physically abuse men.

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Today was an ending and a beginning. My darling girl finished year 12. The final year at school is tough enough, but this year was seismic. Our teens have moved through this year with the most outstanding courage and grace and strength, and now it is time for them to rest and play. My gosh they deserve it. 

It is true that this is a time of celebration, but it can also be an intense time of self-reflection for our teens. (I can remember the same feelings when my gorgeous boy finished so many years ago!) My daughter has described it as, ‘I feel as though I’ve outgrown myself but my new self isn’t ready yet.’ This just makes so much sense. 

There is a beautifully fertile void that is waiting for whatever comes next for each of them, but that void is still a void. At different times it might feel exciting, overwhelming, or brutal in its emptiness.

We also have to remember that this is a time of letting go, and there might be grief that comes with that. Before they can grab on to their next big adventure, they have to let go of the guard rails. This means gently adjusting their hold on the world they have known for the last 12+ years, with its places and routines and people that have felt like home on so many days. There will be redirects and shiftings, and through it all the things that need to stay will stay, and the things that need to adjust will adjust. 

To my darling girl, your loved incredible friends, and the teens who make our world what it is - you are the beautiful  thinkers, the big feelers, the creators, the change makers, and the ones who will craft and grow a better world. However you might feel now, the lights are waiting to shine for you and because of you. The world beyond school is opening its arms to you. That opening might happen quickly, or gently, or smoothly or chaotically, but it will happen. This world needs every one of you - your voices, your spirits, your fire, your softness, your strength and your power. You are world-ready, and we are so glad you are here xxx
When our kids or teens are in high emotion, their words might sound anxious, angry, inconsolable, jealous, defiant. As messy as the words might be, they have a good reason for being there. Big feelings surge as a way to influence the environment to meet a need. Of course, sometimes the fallout from this can be nuclear.
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Wherever there is a big emotion, there will always be an important need behind it - safety, comfort, attention, food, rest, connection. The need will always be valid, even if the way they’re going about meeting it is a little rough. As with so many difficult parenting moments, there will be gold in the middle of the mess if we know where to look. 
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There will be times for shaping the behaviour into a healthier response, but in the middle of a big feeling is not one of those times. Big feelings are NOT a sign of dysfunction, bad kids or bad parenting. They are a part of being human, and they bring rich opportunities for wisdom, learning and growth. .
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Parenting isn’t about stopping the emotional storms, but about moving through the storm and reaching the other side in a way that preserves the opportunity for our kids and teens to learn and grow from the experience - and they will always learn best from experience. 
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To calm a big feeling, name what you see, ‘I can see you’re disappointed. I know how much you wanted that’, or, ‘I can see this feels big for you,’ or, ‘You’re angry at me about .. aren’t you. I understand that. I would be mad too if I had to […],’ or ‘It sounds like today has been a really hard day.’ 
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When we connect with the emotion, we help soothe the nervous system. The emotion has done its job, found support, and can start to ease. 
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When they ‘let go’ they’re letting us in on their deepest and most honest emotional selves. We don’t need to change that. What we need to do is meet them where they and gently guide them from there. When they feel seen and understood, their trust in us and their connection to us will deepen, opening the way for our influence.
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When they are at that line, deciding whether to retreat to safety or move forward into brave, there will be a part of them that will know they have what it takes to be brave. It might be pale, or quiet, or a little tumbled by the noise from anxiety, but it will be there. And it will be magical. Our job as their flight crew is to clear the way for this magical part of them to rise. ‘I can see this feels scary for you - and I know you can do this.’ 
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When our kids or teens are struggling, it can be hard to know what they need. It can also be hard for them to say. It can be this way for all of us - we don't always know what we need from the people around us. It might be space, or distraction, or silence, or maybe acknowledging and being there is enough. Sometimes we might need to know that the people we love aren't taking our need for space, or our confusion or anger or sadness personally, and that they are still there within reach.
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What can be easier is thinking about what other people might need. Asking this when they are calm can invite a different perspective and can give you some insight into what they need to hear when they are going through similar. Don't worry if you just get a shrug, or a disheartened, 'I don't know'. They don't need to know, and neither do we. The question in itself might be enough to open a new way through any sense of 'stuckness' or helplessness they might be feeling.
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Give them space to talk but you don’t need to fix anything. You’ll want to, but the answers are in them, not us. Sometimes the answer will be to feel it out, or push for change, or feel the futility of it all so the feeling can let go, knowing it’s done it’s job - it’s recruited support, or raised awareness that something isn’t right.

Sometimes the feelings might be seismic but the words might be gone for a while. That’s okay too. Do they want to start with whatever words are there? Or talk about something else? Or go for a walk with you? Watch a movie with you? Or do a spontaneous, unnecessary drive thru with you just because you can - no words, no need to explain - just you and them and car music for the next 20 minutes. 

The more you can validate what they’re feeling (maybe, ‘Today was big for you wasn’t it’) and give them space to feel, the more they can feel the feeling, understand the need that’s fuelling it, and experiment with ways to deal with it. Sometimes, ‘dealing with it’ might mean acknowledging that there is something that feels big or important and a little out of reach right now, and feeling the fullness and futility of that. 

Part of building resilience is recognising that some days are rubbish, and that sometimes those days last for longer than they should, but we get through. First we feel floored, then we feel stuck, then we shift because the only choices we have we have are to stay down or move, even when moving hurts. Then, eventually we adjust - either ourselves, the problem, or to a new ‘is’. But the learning comes from experience.

I wish our kids never felt pain, but we don’t get to decide that. We don’t get to decide how our children grow, but we do get to decide how much space and support we give them for this growth. We can love them through it but we can’t love them out of it. I wish we could but we can’t.

So instead of feeling the need to silence their pain, make space for it. In the end we have no choice. Sometimes all the love in the world won’t be enough to put the wrong things right, but it can help them feel held while they move through the pain enough to find their out breath, and the strength that comes with that.♥️

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