What Is Domestic Violence And How To Escape An Abusive Relationship

Esacping abuse may not be easy but it is possible. Especially after learning the warning signs and where to turn for support.

Understanding Relationship Abuse

Relationship Abuse, also known as intimate partner abuse or dating abuse, according to The Safe Alliance, is a pattern of behaviors used to gain and maintain power over an intimate partner.

The abuser may accomplish this by physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, and or financial control. The person being abused is usually unable to leave. Sometimes out of fear or a lack of resources. There is also a cycle related to abuse following a sort of repetition of acts one can use to identify an abusive relationship for themselves or someone they know. 

Why Do People Abuse?

Abuse is always about power. It is a learned behavior that can stem from childhood, culture, society, or peers. Not everyone who was abused in their past will abuse someone else. It is important to understand that abuse is a choice. Although drugs and alcohol can play a huge role in increasing abuse, drugs and alcohol alone are not the cause of abuse. Although possible, people who abuse rarely change on their own, and to recover will usually call for therapy or intervention. Luckily, there's a lot of help nowadays, due to the increase in domestic violence. While some of this help can be in an office with a therapist, there are also 1-800 numbers to call. These numbers are confidential and anonymous. 

Who can be a Victim of Abuse?

Anyone at any time can become a victim of abuse and anyone can be a perpetrator. It doesn't matter about race, religion, childhood, financial status, or any other underlining factor. Abusers do not have a distinctive look or walk about them and they can be highly manipulative. Looking as though they are the perfect partner to outside family members and friends. That is why it can be so hard to notice the red flags at the beginning of a relationship, though there are always red flags. But most abusers have mastered the are of looking, seeming, and acting as the perfect partner at the beginning of a relationship.

Why Victims Stay In An Abusive Relationship?

Victims of domestic violence stay for several reasons. The most common being a physical danger or threat. Others include lack of support, lack of finances or to protect children. Victims may be trapped due to isolation, traumatic bonding to the victimizer, cultural acceptance, lack of financial resources, or to protect children.

Identifying An Abusive Relationship

Here are all the things you need to know to identify if you are in an abusive relationship:

1. Abusers Promise to Change

 Apologizing and promising to change is a common part and cycle of abuse. As mentioned before all abuse is about gaining and maintaining power and control. When the abuser believes the abuse will not be reported and the victim will not leave, they are less likely to stop. 

2. The Natural Cycle of Abuse

Although all situations differ in some way there is usually a cycle. The cycle starts with the build-up of tension, followed by the act of violence, then there is usually a period of reconciliation and calm, followed by more tension. 

3. The Most Common Way Abuse Occurs

When the abuse starts, it rarely starts physically. There are usually other signs such as manipulation, jealousy, controlling behavior, emotional, mental, or verbal abuse. Sometimes, these subtle red flags can come in the disguise of a rude or sarcastic comment or joke that rubs you the wrong way but is laughed off or overlooked. Because the abuse can be somewhat difficult to pinpoint at the beginning of a relationship, people should learn and become familiar with the warning signs. This can save themselves or a loved one a lot of time and heartache and can even save a life and preserve the safety of current or future children.

Why Do People/Victims Stay In An Abusive Relationship?

Let's take a deeper look at the most common reasons victims stay in an abusive relationship

1. Victims Stay Because of Physical Danger

The physical danger of abuse can consist of but not limited to kicking, punching, throwing, burning, slapping, and much more. The victim may stay because they are afraid of the worst consequences if they try and leave. Such as the abuser harming a family member or friend or ultimately taking their life. The victim could feel that law enforcement can't or won't help or that the abuser will come looking for them once released from jail. There are times when the abuser is someone in a position of power, a prominent person in business, or someone in law enforcement themselves. This would make it especially difficult to leave as the victim may feel no one will believe them. 

2. Victims Stay Due to Lack of Support

Sometimes there is just nowhere for the victim to go. They do not have family members or friends. It could be possible the victim has moved to a new town when they met the perpetrator and now has not the means to travel to family and friends to getaway. A lot of times, the victims do not learn about the support and services that are available until the abuse has gone on for a while. Maybe the only other option for the victim is a homeless shelter, maybe there is a waitlist to programs. Either way, when there seems to be a lack of support victims are less likely to escape. 

3. Victims Stay Due to Lack of Finances

It is not uncommon for the perpetrator to be the breadwinner of the family. As stated previously, abuse is about power and control. What better way of enforcing power through the means of finances, being we need money for the essentials in life. Some victims do not have the finances to move to another home, Sometimes they may not have a bank account. The victims may not have access to a car or maybe they are prohibited from driving, getting around only when the perpetrator allows. This can make it seem impossible for any victim to getaway. 

4. Victims Stay to Protect the Children

The most common reason victims stay is for the children. Out of fear the abuser will physically hurt the children, as this is a common tactic used by abusers. Or fear they will lose the child or children to the abuser in a court custody or divorce battle. Sometimes the victim may feel guilty removing the child from the second parent. Whatever the case and reason, this is by far the number one reason victims of domestic violence do not leave a relationship. But this should be the number one reason to leave because domestic violence has a huge negative impact on children.  Children that witness domestic violence shows psychological problems from an early age such as avoidance and aggression which may contribute to vicarious traumatization. 

Support and Escaping Abuse

A lot of victims may not know of all the resources out there to assist and support them but there are many. Most services provided are anonymous. Victims should remember to erase the history on their computers as an extra precaution when searching for support. Support includes help-lines, shelters, transitional homes, support groups, and legal and custody advice. Is important for victims to know they are far from alone. By making sure you are educated on the warning signs and the cycle of abuse, as well as the ways to get help, you are ensuring yourself or your loved one a safer exit plan should you or someone you know find themselves a victim of abuse.

Ola Marie is a Communications and Creative Writing Major. She writes Magazine Articles and Advertising Copy with an interest in wellness.

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