Domestic violence is a serious threat for many women. Know the signs of an abusive relationship and how to cope with the dangerous situation.
Recognize domestic violence
Domestic violence can take many forms, including emotional, sexual and physical abuse and threats of abuse. Men are sometimes abused by partners, but domestic violence is most often directed towards women. It might not be easy to identify domestic violence at first. While some relationships are clearly abusive from the outset, abuse often starts subtly and gets worse over time. You might be experiencing domestic violence if you’re in a relationship with someone who:
• Calls you names, insults you or puts you down
• Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school
• Prevents or discourages you from seeing family members or friends
• Tries to control how you spend money, where you go, what medicines you take or what you wear
• Acts jealous or possessive or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful
• Threatens you with violence or a weapon
• Hits, kicks, shoves, slaps, chokes or otherwise hurts you, your children or your pets
• Forces you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will
• Blames you for his or her violent behavior or tells you that you deserve it
The cycle of violence in domestic abuse
Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence:
Abuse – Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play designed to show you “who is the boss.”
Guilt – After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what he’s done. He’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for his abusive behavior.
Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what he has done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking responsibility.
“Normal” behavior – The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.
Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he’ll make you pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.
Set-up – Your abuser sets you up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where he can justify abusing you.
Your abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. He may make you believe that you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, and that he truly loves you. However, the dangers of staying are very real.
Break the cycle
The longer you stay in an abusive relationship, the greater the physical and emotional toll. You might become depressed, anxious, helpless and guilty. Still, the only way to break the cycle of domestic violence is to take action — and the sooner the better. Start by telling someone about the abuse, whether it’s a friend, relative, or other close associates. At first, you might find it hard to talk about the abuse. But you’ll also experience relief and receive much-needed support.
“Silence Is Not A Virtue; Break The Silence Of Oppression.”
Dr Ila Pathak (1933 – 2014)
Founder, Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group (AWAG)