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?

Reply
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/.

Reply
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.

Reply

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Growth doesn’t always announce itself in ways that feel safe or invited. Often, it can leave us exhausted and confused and with dirt in our pores from the fury of the battle. It is this way for all of us, our children too. 

The truth of it all is that we are all born with a profound and immense capacity to rise through challenges, changes and heartache. There is something else we are born with too, and it is the capacity to add softness, strength, and safety for each other when the movement towards growth feels too big. Not always by finding the answer, but by being it - just by being - safe, warm, vulnerable, real. As it turns out, sometimes, this is the richest source of growth for all of us.
When the world feel sunsettled, the ripple can reach the hearts, minds and spirits of kids and teens whether or not they are directly affected. As the important adult in the life of any child or teen, you have a profound capacity to give them what they need to steady their world again.

When their fears are really big, such as the death of a parent, being alone in the world, being separated from people they love, children might put this into something else. 

This can also happen because they can’t always articulate the fear. Emotional ‘experiences’ don’t lay in the brain as words, they lay down as images and sensory experiences. This is why smells and sounds can trigger anxiety, even if they aren’t connected to a scary experience. The ‘experiences’ also don’t need to be theirs. Hearing ‘about’ is enough.

The content of the fear might seem irrational but the feeling will be valid. Think of it as the feeling being the part that needs you. Their anxiety, sadness, anger (which happens to hold down other more vulnerable emotions) needs to be seen, held, contained and soothed, so they can feel safe again - and you have so much power to make that happen. 

‘I can see how worried you are. There are some big things happening in the world at the moment, but my darling, you are safe. I promise. You are so safe.’ 

If they have been through something big, the truth is that they have been through something frightening AND they are safe, ‘We’re going through some big things and it can be confusing and scary. We’ll get through this. It’s okay to feel scared or sad or angry. Whatever you feel is okay, and I’m here and I love you and we are safe. We can get through anything together.’
I love being a parent. I love it with every part of my being and more than I ever thought I could love anything. Honestly though, nothing has brought out my insecurities or vulnerabilities as much. This is so normal. Confusing, and normal. 

However many children we have, and whatever age they are, each child and each new stage will bring something new for us to learn. It will always be this way. Our children will each do life differently, and along the way we will need to adapt and bend ourselves around their path to light their way as best we can. But we won't do this perfectly, because we can't always know what mountains they'll need to climb, or what dragons they'll need to slay. We won't always know what they’ll need, and we won't always be able to give it. We don't need to. But we'll want to. Sometimes we’ll ache because of this and we’ll blame ourselves for not being ‘enough’. Sometimes we won't. This is the vulnerability that comes with parenting. 

We love them so much, and that never changes, but the way we feel about parenting might change a thousand times before breakfast. Parenting is tough. It's worth every second - every second - but it's tough. Great parents can feel everything, and sometimes it can turn from moment to moment - loving, furious, resentful, compassionate, gentle, tough, joyful, selfish, confused and wise - all of it. Great parents can feel all of it.

Because parenting is pure joy, but not always. We are strong, nurturing, selfless, loving, but not always. Parents aren't perfect. Love isn't perfect. And it was meant to be. We’re raising humans - real ones, with feelings, who don't need to be perfect, and wont  need others to be perfect. Humans who can be kind to others, and to themselves first. But they will learn this from us. Parenting is the role which needs us to be our most human, beautifully imperfect, flawed, vulnerable selves. Let's not judge ourselves for our shortcomings and the imperfections, and the necessary human-ness of us.❤️
The behaviour that comes with separation anxiety is the symptom not the problem. To strengthen children against separation anxiety, we have to respond at the source – the felt sense of separation from you.

Whenever there is separation from an attachment person, there will be always be anxiety unless there is at least one of 2 things: attachment with another trusted, adult; or a felt sense of you holding on to them, even when you aren’t beside them. 

If separation is the problem, connection has to be the solution. The connection can be with any loving adult, but it needs more than an adult being present. Just because there is another adult in the room, doesn’t mean your child will experience a deep sense of safety with that adult. This doesn’t mean the adult isn’t safe - it’s about what the brain perceives, and that brain is looking for a deep, felt sense of safety. This will come from the presence of an adult who, through their strong, loving presence, shows the child their abundant intention to care for them, and their joy in doing so. The joy in caretaking is important. It lets the child rest from seeking the adult’s care because there will be a sense that the adult wants it enough for both.

This can be helped along by showing your young one that you trust the adult to love and care for your child and keep him or her safe in your absence: ‘I know [important adult] loves you and is going to take such good care of you.’ This doesn’t mean children will instantly feel the attachment, but the path towards that will be more illuminated.

To help them feel you holding on even when you aren’t with them, let them know you’ll be thinking of them and can’t wait to be with them again. I used to tell my daughter that every 15 seconds, my mind makes sure it knows where she is. Think of this as ‘taking over’ their worry. ‘You don’t have to worry about you or me because I’m taking care of both of us – every 15 seconds.’ This might also look like giving them something of yours to hold on to while you’re gone – a scarf, a note. You will always be their favourite way to safety, but you can’t be everywhere. Another loving adult or the felt presence of you will help them rest.
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say or whether to say anything at all. It doesn’t matter if the ‘right’ words aren’t there, because often there no right words. There are also no wrong ones. Often it’s not even about the words. Your presence, your attention, the sound of your voice - they all help to soften the hard edges of the world. Humans have been talking for as long as we’ve had heartbeats and there’s a reason for this. Talking heals. 

It helps to connect the emotional right brain with the logical left. This gives context and shape to feelings and helps them feel contained, which lets those feelings soften. 

You don’t need to fix anything and you don’t need to have all the answers. Even if the words land differently to the way you expected, you can clean it up once it’s out there. What’s important is opening the space for conversation, which opens the way to you. Try, ‘I’m wondering how you’re doing with everything. Would you like to talk?’ 

And let them take the lead. Some days they’ll want to talk about ‘it’ and some days they’ll want to talk about anything but. Whether it’s to distract from the mess of it all or to go deeper into it so they can carve their way through the feeling to the calm on the other side, healing will come. So ask, ‘Do you want to talk about ‘it’ or do you want to talk about something else? Because I’m here for both.’ ♥️
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