Relationship & Domestic Violence
Relationship and domestic violence are both patterns of behavior in an intimate relationship that is used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation.
Whether you refer to an experience as dating violence, domestic violence, intimate partner violence or relationship violence, all terms mean that one partner has gained more power over time through the use of controlling tactics.
There are many signs of a mentally or physically abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner, constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up, chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and your resulting feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation. Everybody deserves to be in a good and healthy relationship and no one should ever have to endure abuse.
Signs of emotional abuse can include the following:
- Refusing to listen to you
- Putting down your physical appearance or intellect
- Making you do humiliating or demeaning things
- Acting jealous and suspicious of your friends and social contacts
- Monitoring your time, whereabouts, telephone calls or e-mail contact
- Not allowing you to leave the home alone.
Physical abuse is a form of domestic violence where any intentional and unwanted contact with you or something close to your body is made. Sometimes abusive behavior does not cause pain or even leave a bruise, but it’s still unhealthy.
- Examples of physical abuse are:
- Scratching, punching, biting, strangling or kicking
- Throwing something at you such as a phone, book, shoe or plate
- Pulling your hair
- Groping your body
- Sexual harassment
- Pushing or pulling you
- Grabbing your clothing
- Using a gun, knife, bat, or other weapon to hurt or intimidate you
- Forcing you to have sex or perform a sexual act (this is called rape)
- Grabbing your face to make you look at them
- Grabbing you to prevent you from leaving or to force you to go somewhere
When a woman has a close personal relationship with the man who rapes her, she (and others) may be confused about whether the attack was really a rape. It is a widely held myth that women cannot be raped by their husbands, partners, or even family members (incest). But the reality is that any time someone forces himself/herself on you sexually without your consent, this can be sexual assault or rape. Even if you’re married to or in a relationship with the person who is assaulting or raping you, this doesn't make it any less "real."*
Women who have been raped by their husbands or friends experience many of the same fears and feelings as the victim of any sexual assault or emotional abuse. They suffer from guilt (“Was it something I said? Or did?”), from fear (“What if it happens again?”), and from loss of trust (“How could he do this to me?”).
Victims of rape should know that rapes are planned and nothing the victim did or did not do caused the sexually assaultive behavior. A rapist is a criminal, even if he is also a husband or a boyfriend.