October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
I’ve heard people say it’s not domestic violence if he doesn’t hit me. Physical violence is emotional violence and emotional violence is physical violence.
I’m going to use the male pronoun throughout this post but this does not suggest that men are never victims of domestic violence. Also, we are starting to understand the dynamics of domestic violence in same-sex relationships.
Although, I plan to talk more specifically about anger and violence in later posts. I think that for men and women fear, sadness, shame, and other feelings associated with vulnerability manifest in anger and violence. Culturally, we do a poor job of teaching children healthy ways to manage emotions and the results have been catastrophic. This is not an excuse for the behavior but context from which to understand.
Domestic violence is often misunderstood because it is so complicated. Often, the relationship dynamics don’t start with outright physical or emotional violence. Slowly, through emotional manipulation and guilt the people in the relationship become isolated. Also, the person that is abusive is not always a monster. In fact, he/she can have many amazing parts to their personality. This makes the situation extremely confusing for the victim because “He’s really sweet most of the time” or “He feels really bad when he hurts me” or “I know he loves me”
When someone hits you it isn’t just physical. When someone hits you it affects you emotionally in ways that can not be quantified. Your self-worth is demolished. Your sense of safety is destroyed. Your trust in yourself is shattered. This is all in addition to whatever physical pain you’re experiencing as a result of the act of physical violence.
This is when denial and making excuses is dangerous and possibly deadly. If you’ve ever said “He only hit me once and he didn’t mean it or it was an accident or he was drunk or I was acting badly” please get help now.
It will happen again and it will be worse.
There is the shame spiral of stuckness: “how did I end up in this situation?” and “what do I do now” and “where can I go” and “I don’t have any money” and “what about my kids” and “if I leave he’ll kill me.”
If you feel like you can’t leave a situation because you’re scared of what he’ll do, you are in an abusive situation.
If someone calls you stupid, fat, bitch, worthless, whore, (or anything of that variation), you are in an abusive situation.
If your partner forces you to have sexual relations when you don’t consent, you are in an abusive situation.
If someone actively cuts you off from the people you love and/or makes you feel guilty when you connect with other people, you are in an abusive situation.
If someone is following you, calling you, or continues to solicit attention from you and you don’t want their attention and/or the attention makes you uncomfortable, you are in an abusive situation.
Even if your parter never hurts the children involved they are being affected in ways that researchers are only beginning to understand. Witnessing domestic violence is child abuse.
If you have any concerns that you might be in an abusive situation, you might be in an abusive situation. You may not fit squarely into one of the above categories but if your gut says you are not safe YOU ARE NOT SAFE!
And you should get help right now. I mean, stop reading this blog post right now and call someone you love and tell them how you feel.
If you don’t have someone to call, this is a link to the National Domestic Violence 24/7 hotline.
Tell people what’s happening. Tell all of your safest friends and family. Go to a therapist immediately. Talk to your doctor. Put together a safety plan for getting out.
And, if your partner suggests to you that the situation is abusive and you make her feel guilty or bad for feeling that way, you are being abusive.
If someone asks you to stop calling them or texting them and you do it anyway, you are being abusive.
If someone is afraid to leave you because you have made threats as to what you will do, you are being abusive.
If you feel like you might be being abusive, this is not healthy for you and the best thing you can do is get help immediately. Call a therapist. Talk to your friends. Tell people you love and trust that something is wrong and you need help immediately.
A relationship should always feel safe and open. I will never own my partner and if he decided he did not want to be with me anymore it would break my heart and destroy me but I have to let him go because I don’t own him.
He is his own person, always.
Even if I desperately want him to stay he always has the freedom to leave.
I can not guilt him into staying. That is abuse. It is emotional manipulation.
If you ever find yourself in a domestic violence situation please, I beg you, get help before something disastrous happens.
Please. Please. Please.
Image from: http://vcgcb.ca.gov/victims/dv2013kit.aspx