How to Recognize the Signs of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence overview

What is Domestic Violence? It is complex and often insidious. It can be a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. There is a full spectrum of abuse that includes (but is not limited to) physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.

The law recognizes domestic violence as any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone. And it can happen to anyone regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, and education levels.

The signs of domestic violence

Here are somethings to consider. Does the person you love:

1. Destroy your property or abuse your pets?
2. Humiliate you in front of other people?
3. Hit, kick, punch, choke or use physical force against you?
4. Force or coerce you to have sex when you don’t want to?
5. Threaten to hurt you or commit suicide if you leave?
6. Criticize or blame you for everything that goes wrong?
7. Control your access to money?
8. Control your time and actions?
9. Control the decision-making in your relationship?
10. Put you down, call you names, make you feel like you’re crazy?
11. Threaten to hurt you or other people you care about?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship. You are not alone; many people just like you are dealing with violence at home. It’s important for you to know that no one has the right to hurt you.

More than 38 million American women have been victims of domestic violence. The technological revolution has opened up new ways for abusers to dominate, intimidate and control the people in their lives through manipulation, cyber-stalking and emotional blackmail. 10 percent of American women will be raped by intimate partners in their lifetime and intimate partners, usually men, are responsible for killing one-third of female murder victims.

Psychology Today posted an article on February 26, 2019, about the “Alarming Effects of Children’s Exposure to Domestic Violence”.

The psychological aftermath of exposure to DV can include fear of harm or abandonment, excessive worry or sadness, guilt, inability to experience empathy or guilt, habitual lying, low frustration tolerance, emotional distancing, poor judgment, shame, and fear about the future.

The attention given, emotions felt, and memories imprinted onto a child’s brain in moments of stress become inextricably linked together and forever taint—or else filter—feelings, beliefs, and choices in relationships and so many other facets of life. These children are not merely innocent bystanders. They are victims.

How Mariposa can help

At Mariposa, we can help; Mariposa works with victims of domestic violence every day. We have a wide range of supportive services including groups and individual counseling. We also provide free childcare onsite, providing a safe environment for children to visit while their mothers/fathers are in services.

We run open groups, allowing members to join at any time. Sometimes just being in the presence of other women who have experienced the same thing, is helpful. There is no judgment and the peer support can provide help with making a safety plan and healing from an abusive relationship.

Safety Plan

The most dangerous time for a woman (or man) living with domestic violence, is when she (he) actually leaves the relationship. A safety plan is critical for increasing safety and preparing in advance for the possibility of further violence.

Here are a few strategies we offer our clients:

1. Practice how to get out safely. What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells or fire escapes would you use?
2. Keep purse/car keys in a particular location in order to leave quickly.
3. Teach your children how to use the telephone to contact the police, the fire department and 911.
4. Create a code word and share with your children or your friends so they can call for help if needed.
5. If you have to leave your home, go to _______ (decide this even if you don’t think there will be a next time).
6. Keep copies of important documents or keys at _______ (friend or family member).
7. Leave extra clothes or money with ________(friend or family member).
8. Rehearse your escape plan and, as appropriate, practice with your children.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or have left an abusive relationship, we are here for you. Reach out to us at 714.547.6494 and we will be happy to provide you with the support you need to begin the next chapter of your life.

2 Responses

    1. Hello Susan,

      We do offer group and individual services for victims of violence. Please feel free to call our office and learn more. 714-547-6494. We are now open for in-person sessions and we still offer virtual sessions as well.

      Hope we can help,
      Dr. Krista Driver

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