How Do I Know if I am a Victim of Domestic Violence?

Love should not hurt

It is puzzling for me, standing on this side of the fence now, to consider how often women question whether or not they are experiencing domestic violence. The far too common thought is, “Well, I must not be a victim of domestic violence. He has never hit me.” Okay, would it make sense if we call it domestic abuse then? Either way, you are a victim and you are being abused.

It may start with being told what to wear, where you may or may not go, checking the odometer on your car or screening your calls. Another sign that domestic violence is afoot comes in the nature of pet abuse. Many men have killed the family pet and reassured their wife they could very easily be next. What drives a woman to stay? Fear for her life – financial issues – need for a roof overhead – the children being displaced from their home . . . the list seems endless.

You see, while the general perception of domestic or intimate partner violence is one person losing their temper and striking another, it is actually a matter of power and control. Some people are simply obsessed with maintaining dominance over every aspect (and perhaps person) in their life. When the abuser begins to think or fear he may be losing power, the cycle of fear, intimidation, isolation and abuse is underway. It’s an ownership thing. There is often the “honeymoon” period immediately after an emotional, verbal or physical attack, with the promises of, “I swear I will never do it again. I love you. Don’t leave me.” A bouquet of roses might even arrive at the office. Once domestic violence begins, unfortunately, almost without exception it will only escalate.

So, if you are enduring verbal assault, emotional abuse or are in a position of being manipulated and controlled, consider the fact you are at some level a victim of domestic or intimate partner abuse, and it is likely that it will eventually escalate to physical violence. Now you know.

 Listen to Carolyn’s interview with Cynthia Brennen, on “Help, Hope & Healing.” Visit her Everyday Health blog, Emotional Wellbeing, or her website at orangeblossomwishes.com.

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