Why Is Domestic Violence So Common?
Any violence or abuse can have serious health consequences for the victim. It can lead to adverse health outcomes such as chronic pain, increased risk of stroke, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, or gynecological problems. There are also behavioral health problems, such as depression, alcohol and drug use, and high-risk sexual behaviors. In addition, domestic violence is associated with absenteeism and poor job performance, leading to social isolation, housing, and financial problems, posing additional health risks to victims and their families.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four women and one in nine men experience domestic violence. Children witness more than half of domestic abuse and have a 45 to 60 percent chance of being abused when their parents are attacked.
Types of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be a pattern of physical, sexual, emotional, financial, psychological, or technical behavior, threatening behavior, or other coercive behavior affecting another person in an intimate partner relationship. This includes any behavior that intimidates, manipulates, humiliates, isolates, coerces, threatens, blames, or harms another person.
Examples of abusive behavior include:
- Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, pushing, scratching, pinching, biting, and pulling hair are all forms of physical abuse.
- Sexual Abuse: Forcing or attempting to force sexual contact or behavior without consent.
- Emotional Abuse: Destroying a person's confidence and self-esteem is a form of abuse.
- Economic Abuse: Controlling or restricting an individual's ability to acquire, use, or maintain economic resources to which they are entitled.
- Psychological Abuse: Inducing fear through intimidation; threatening physical harm to oneself, partner, children, or partner's family or friends; destroying pets and property; enforced isolation from family, friends, or school and work.
- Technology Abuse: Behavior or patterns of behavior designed to use any form of technology to harm, threaten, control, stalk, harass, disguise, exploit, blackmail, or spy on others.
Domestic Violence Vs. Domestic Abuse
Domestic violence and domestic abuse are terms used interchangeably, although some people recognize a crucial difference between the two terms. It must be emphasized that the definition of domestic violence and abuse vary from state to state. While some definitions highlight the differences between the two concepts, others do not.
In simple terms, domestic violence is when one partner uses abusive behavior to control and control another partner. Domestic abuse refers to all forms of abuse that occurs in the home, whether physical, psychological, or sexual. The main difference between the two concepts is that, unlike domestic violence, which focuses on violent behavior, domestic violence encompasses a broader range of behaviors that may not be violent but still be abuse.
Research shows that domestic violence often begins with verbal violence, increases gradually, and eventually reaches physical violence. While most people focus only on physical abuse, emotional abuse can also be detrimental to the individual, as the abuser uses a variety of strategies such as humiliation, guilt, fear, threats, intimidation, domination, and denial to manipulate a partner. Psychologists stress that this can lead to depression, anxiety, and even loss of self-esteem. Therefore, it is imperative to seek help, whether domestic abuse or domestic violence.
What is a Cycle of Domestic Violence?
The cycle of abuse, sometimes called the cycle of violence, helps illustrate common abusive behavior patterns in relationships. It also helps explain why abused people often find it difficult to break free.
1. Rising tensions: Abusive partners often lash out at external stressors. Anything can cause stress: family problems, work problems, physical illness, and fatigue. Frustration and dissatisfaction build up over time, often leading to feelings of powerlessness, injustice, anger, and paranoia.
2. Incidents of abuse or violence: The abuser eventually releases this tension onto others and tries to regain power by gaining control. They may accuse you of making them angry or blame you for "relationship problems."
3. Settlement: After the abuse, tensions gradually began to dissipate. To overcome abuse, abusers often use gestures of kindness, gifts, and love to initiate the "honeymoon period." This focused act can trigger the release of dopamine and oxytocin, which will help you feel more connected and trick you into believing that you've returned to a "real" relationship.
4. Rest: Generally, to maintain peace and harmony, both parties must come up with some explanation or justification for the abuse. The abuser may show regret, assure you it won't happen again, and seem to meet your needs better than usual. You may start to accept their excuses and even doubt your memory of the abuse.
The cycle then repeats over time. However, this "loop" happens repeatedly in abusive relationships. The length of time between each repetition may vary. It usually shortens over time as abuse escalates. Over time, the rest periods can become very short or even disappear from the cycle entirely.
Does Counseling Help Domestic Violence?
Couples therapy is not the answer when your partner is abusive. Instead, advocates and experts recommend individualized therapy for each partner to address their problems, fears, or insecurities or help set boundaries or determine if your partner is healthy for you. One-on-one counseling with someone trained in domestic violence trauma can help partners identify abuse or help survivors realize they are being abused.
If your partner agrees to participate, personal counseling can help him, or her develop emotion regulation skills. This usually involves regular counseling to learn about emotions and their triggers before and during the conflict, and then learn other ways to think about upsets and let feelings pass more rationally. And positive thinking to calm down.
If your partner refuses to address their problems, tries to blame your behavior, or promises to change but doesn't, these are red flags that abuse is happening or has happened.
How Do I Get Help for Domestic Violence?
No matter where you are, being in an abusive relationship can be very challenging, and there are steps to take to improve the situation. While not having the support of family or friends can be intimidating, that doesn't mean that help isn't available. Depending on where you live, there are different ways to seek support:
Use the Hotline: There’s always someone to help at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can reach the hotline by texting "Get Started" to (800) 799-7233, calling the hotline, or chatting online. The hotline can help you get in touch with programs in your area. This may include a shelter, legal counsel or a domestic violence advocate to help you through the process.
United Way: United Way is another national resource you can access by calling 211 or visiting 211.org. The organization can help you find the many services and agencies in your area to support you on your path to freedom and safety.
Neighbors or Co-Workers: If you feel comfortable doing this, you can contact neighbors or colleagues you know and trust. While these people may not be as close as family or friends, they may be able to provide emotional support, help document abuse, or tell you about other resources that may be specific to your area.
Women Helping Women: Women Helping Women Maui is a local nonprofit in Hawaii. Its mission is to end domestic violence through advocacy, education and prevention, and to provide safety, support and empowerment for women and children who experience domestic violence.
Child and Family Services: Maui County Child and Family Services has domestic violence programs that can help you locally.
Mindful Living Group: We have multiple trauma specialists at Mindful Living Group who work with both offenders and victims of domestic violence.