Domestic Abuse - Domestic and Family Violence

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ilbey Ucar PhD (Psychology)

Last updated date : February 26, 2023

It can be a challenging situation to talk about or fully comprehend when the people who are supposed to be your closest in the world end up being the same ones who abuse you daily. The situation is the same, regardless of whether your spouse, parents, siblings or extended family is abusing you. What makes domestic abuse worse than being abused on a night out by a stranger is that you suffer at the hands of someone you love and trust. The impact of domestic abuse on the victim’s mental and physical health is so severe that those who manage to come out for help are recognized as survivors. While physical wounds can tend to, mental wounds are not so easy to notice, making it difficult to ever fix them at all.


Chapter 1:

Domestic and Family Violence – An Overview

The popular belief when it comes to domestic abuse is that it is solely about physical abuse. However, the subject is far deeper than that. Domestic abuse involves many mental torments, some that result due to physical abuse. For example, dreading the thought of going home just because you don’t want to hear your father scold your mom every day is a sign of mental abuse caused by domestic violence. It may be understandably difficult to make sure that those who are in happy families understand what a domestic abuse scenario is like. Due to this fact, the victims often tend to keep their experiences to themselves.
“You can recognize survivors of abuse by their courage. When silence is so very inviting, they step forward and share their truth so others know they aren’t alone. Jeanne McElvaney
Research suggests that anxiety, depression, and other severe mental disorders take place during a person’s childhood, especially if their family background was abusive. If not dealt with, they are more prone to harm themselves later in life, harm others, or become a toxic member of their family like their family was to them.

Chapter 2:

What Does Domestic Abuse Look Like

A few of the most obvious domestic abuse traits are,

  • Physical violence
  • Shouting or scolding
  • Using filth often
  • Being arrogant towards children
  • Arrogance due to intoxication
  • Belittling

There are also times where victims don’t understand that they are being abused, or the extent of the abuse. Below are a few examples of such neatly executed abuse.

  • If you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, your partner or family may make you look like you are unfit to do anything.

For example – ‘you wouldn’t last a day without me’, ‘you can’t deal with the kids anymore’, ‘don’t cook. Can’t possibly trust what you use to cook’

  • They control you. This can be the way you look, your money, your decisions, or anything that makes you who you are.
  • They may take your things without asking and make it a normality
  • They may belittle you as much as they can.
  • The fear to make a simple mistake.
  • The fear to ask a question.
  • They monitor your every move, keeping tabs on all you do.
  • More likely to embarrass you in front of others.
  • Has no respect for you.
  • Has no problem with putting you in difficult situations
  • Feels no remorse about making things difficult for you
  • Deprives you of care such as medical, nutritional, affection, love, or anything you need
  • Forces intimacy out of you
  • They may force you to do things you don’t like

For example – Marital rape counts as abuse. Many women go through violence and trauma due to being married to an abuser who forces them to have sexual intimacy despite them not consenting.

However, abuse is not only these signs. One of the many reasons why domestic abuse is hardly recognized by an outsider is that the victim is often struck by shame to reach out for help and the abuser plays his game very subtly without a display of warning signs. The point is, fear or unnatural anger should have no place in a relationship.

Chapter 3:

How Can You Help Yourself if You are a Victim?

It may take a while for you to understand that you are an abuse victim. That is unless there are obvious signs of physical violence. Mental and emotional abuse is trickier. A relationship with either your family or lover has to fulfill you and cheer you up. The most basic idea is that if the relationship makes you upset and sad more often than happy, there really is no point. However, getting out of an abusive relationship can be trickier than the idea. Especially if the abuser is your husband/wife, or your entire family, or someone that keeps you silent by threats. However, it is not impossible to escape. Below are a few ways how.
  • First things first, know the emergency helplines. The police and other authorities are there to help with rescuing domestic abuse victims when they need help. Use code words if necessary to not alert the abuser.
  • Reach out to friends, relatives, and anyone else you can trust. There is no shame in asking for help when you really need it.
  • Have an emergency bag with your necessities so that you can take off as soon as you get a chance. Plan an escape.
  • Once you are free, focus on your mental health and the recovery process.

Chapter 4:

Signs That a Loved One Is Facing Domestic Abuse

Here are a few signs you can explore in your loved ones to recognize if they are really as happy as they claim to be.
  • Signs of physical abuse. They have bruises and marks that they blame on shallow things. There are new marks ever so often and they are always by accident. They may also wear clothes such as long sleeves or hoodies and masks to cover scars.
  • You can see their family or spouse being rude or manipulative towards them, and they put up with it, without a word.
  • They try to make excuses for the abuse that is clear.
  • They visibly change. The way they dress, the way they look, among other things and there is no particular reason.
  • Signs of depression and stress.
  • Likely to be quiet and on their own most of the time.
  • Might be unreachable as opposed to normal.
  • Never does anything any differently than how their partner or family wants it.
  • Absent from school, work, events, and does not give a clear reason why or uses the same excuses every day.
  • They are more likely to think that there is something wrong with themselves and blame themselves.
  • Lack of attention and focus
  • Anxiety issue

Chapter 5:

How Can You Help a Domestic Abuse Victim?

What can you do if you think someone else is an abuse victim of their family or partner? You can try the below approaches to try and get to the bottom of your suspicions. However, it’s important to remember that abuse victims try their best to hide their pain. The fact that someone sees through them might push them into defense mode very fast.
  • Ask them how life is, and gently move into the question if anything is wrong
  • Tell them why you are concerned
  • Know when to stop. Telling them what concerns you might make them put on an even better show. This is usually the calm before the storm, right before they either open up or completely close themselves up
  • Make sure they know that they always have someone they can trust
  • Offer help, without crossing limits
  • Respect their boundaries. Victims don’t like it when someone victimizes them. Therefore, make sure that they are not being crowded or belittled by your offerings
  • Let them know there is professional help

Some victims are just waiting to receive help from someone. There are times a victim can fall apart and let you know what is happening to them. How can you help a victim of domestic abuse?

Be Careful With What You Say

Abuse victims find their experiences difficult to talk about to others, especially if the one listening is happy in their family or relationship. This involves feelings of shame, feeling less, envy, and many other complicated factors. It is also possible that those who don’t get abused themselves don’t understand the extent of domestic abuse or the different ways it can occur. Therefore, if you are the listening party, be careful with your words and opinions. It takes a lot of courage and risk for the victim to open up to you. Do not belittle their experience or call them insane. Even though you cannot possibly relate, understand that they are looking for your support. Find out how best you can help your friend. Chances are, they are reaching out to you when they can’t take it anymore. Your oblivious behaviour can cost them their life.

Find Necessary Help

Do not try to approach the abuser and teach them a lesson. If you cause harm to another, despite the circumstances, you will be in trouble. Therefore, contact the necessary authorities and try to help the victim. Based on the circumstances, be careful and secretive. Most domestic abuse victims claim that their abusers kept them silent by the use of force. They were hesitant to reach out for help due to the worry that the abuser will hurt them more. Thus, your actions and how you execute the plans can have a detrimental effect on the victim. They trusted you with sensitive information, make sure you give them the necessary help.

Be a Good Friend

Most importantly, make sure your friend receives the help they need to get through the problem. There are times that the victim hardly gets to escape the abusive situation. Especially if the abusers are their family. So, the best you can do is be a good friend they can reach out to, hang out with, open up to, and rely on. Take them to receive professional help if necessary. You can be their temporary escape from what they go through in life on a daily basis. This is a good reminder for the victims that they are not alone in this world.

Chapter 6:

Domestic Abuse Impact on Different Aspects of Life

Why is domestic abuse a topic that people talk about very often? To be frank, the impact of domestic abuse is not only limited to physical symptoms. Research suggests that many other difficulties people have in their life see its birth by being abused by someone they loved and trusted.

Suicide and Domestic Abuse

According to research, women who have committed suicide are 77% of those who have had the worst of domestic abuse. Many women, especially after they get married to an abuser, choose to stick around because of the hardships their children will go through without a father to financially support them. Thus, when things come to the brink of tolerance, many women find solace in ending their life. Adding to that, many women who have been domestic abuse victims have opened up about failed suicide attempts due to their partner’s mistreatment. This abuse often includes sexual abuse as well.

Drug/Alcohol Addiction and Domestic Abuse

Children who have been through domestic abuse or have witnessed abuse towards their parents are more likely to find comfort in alcohol or drug use. Studies also show that women who have been domestic abuse victims are also more affected if they are addicted to drugs and alcohol. It is likely an escape they adapt to flee reality whenever they can. Growing up in such an environment, children are likely to suffer very much, mentally and physically.

Mental Disorders and Domestic Abuse

Victims of domestic abuse go through a great deal of agony. As a result, they end up with severe mental health problems on top of physical issues. These mental health-related issues will require long-term treatment. Yet, however, some victims never fully recover.

Some of these mental health issues include depression, PTSD, anxiety, etc.

Children and Domestic Abuse

Having to grow up around domestic abuse, having to watch the father beat up their mother every day, or getting beaten up by parents on top of the impact caused by hateful words, domestic abuse takes a toll on a growing child. They may not know anything different from what they are experiencing, which may result in them turning out to be exactly like their abusive family members. Research shows that children who grow up in rusty, hateful, and violent environments are more likely to end up with anger issues, drug/alcohol addiction, abusive to their own families, and in all other ways the same terror his family was to him. In other words, if the mental abuse caused to children is not helped by a doctor while they still can, PTSD can turn these children into even worse people than their family was.

Chapter 7:

Get Help for Your Psychological Wounds

When someone you once loved and trusted pushes you to the edge of wanting to end your life, the comeback won’t be easy. However, if you never try to come back, you may bleed on everyone that did not cut you. You are likely to spread your negative energy, not knowing who to trust anymore, and might spend the rest of your life in pain, addicted to alcohol, alone, and in fear. You don’t have to pay for what someone did to you, just because they found pleasure in watching you suffer. That is why there are countless amounts of help to get you through to the other side, where you recover and spend a healthy life with your loved ones.

Licensed clinicians and therapists, as well as counselors, are here to listen to your story and figure out how best they can rescue you from your pain. We believe you owe that much effort to yourself and to everyone that worked on getting you out of the abusive environment. This is your sign to reach out to professional psychological help, and spend the rest of your life in much happiness and comfort.

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