There can be a lot of misconceptions about domestic abuse. Here are the answers to a few questions that many people have when considering domestic violence.
What is domestic abuse?
There are several different forms domestic abuse can take. Physical abuse gains the most attention, followed by sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, and digital. Each of these forms of abuse are used to control the victim and make the batterer feel like they hold all the power. Often, more than one type of abuse is occuring at the same time.
An unhealthy relationship usually suffers through a cycle of abuse, which consists of the Honeymoon Stage, Tension Building, and Acute Explosion, before returning to the Honeymoon.
What causes abuse?
The abuser. Nobody else is responsible for or in control of the batterer’s actions. Abuse is used in order to attain a sense of complete power and control.
How do I know when I'm being abused?
Every relationship looks different, which means that abuse can be more difficult to notice in some situations compared to others. Signs of abuse may occur slowly and can even seem reasonable at first. Abuse can involve a partner who:
- puts you down constantly
- physically hits, pushes, strangles, or scratches you
- engages in sexual contact that you did not consent to, including rape
- is overbearing, jealous, or possessive over you
- isolates you from friends, family, or co-workers
- controls how/where you spend your time, money, or who you see
- prevents you from making your own decisions
- scares or intimidates you through their words or actions
- threatens you or your children, pets, friends, family, or property
- pressures you to do things you don’t feel comfortable with
How common is domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse can happen to a person of any race, age, class, or gender. In America, over 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced physical violence, rape, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. That’s over half of the country’s population.
Intimate partner violence is most often experienced by females ages 18 to 24, followed by 25 to 34.
"Why don't they just leave?"
Leaving an abusive partner is difficult for many reasons. Often, you are not in control of your resources (money access, car keys, cell phone usage, etc.) which makes finding help even harder. Feeling isolated, threatened, or unable to help or protect others in your care (children, elderly, pets, etc.) can set back a survivor’s decision to leave. There may also be residual feelings of love, or hope that the batterer will change. Women often leave several times before actually ending the relationship.
It may never feel like there is a “good time” to leave. If it’s possible, make a Safety Plan, which includes gathering things you’d like to have with you if you do have to leave suddenly. Some important things to remember may be legal documents, IDs, medication, the numbers of people who can help you, and other necessities. Check out our Family Safety Plan for more ideas.
How can I get help? What happens if I don't?
There are lots of people and organizations ready to help you. The Peace at Home Shelter offers transitional housing, legal representation, support groups, and help with finding employment. We can also assist you with community referrals.
Contact our Crisis Hotline at 479-442-9811, or for more information call us at 479-444-8310.
Abuse will not get better over time. The longer a person experiences abuse, the more emotional, psychological, and physical damage it will cause. Even though there can be "good periods" between the violence, it does not make up for or excuse any type of pain caused. Do not wait until it's too late to get help.
How can I give help?
There are lots of ways you can help! Being an advocate against domestic abuse is a great way to spread awareness of warning signs, how domestic abuse affects every community, and the options and help that are available to survivors. Don’t let something this impactful happen without someone to speak out against it.
You can also volunteer, fundraise, and donate to your local shelters. There is never a shortage of need for basic necessities like bed sheets, diapers, food… Check out our Needs List for more ideas. You can also donate to Peace at Home Shelter here.