Domestic abuse or violence is a pattern of threatening behavior, violence or abuse (psychological, stalking, physical, harassment, online or digital abuse, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. Domestic violence can be a single act or a pattern of controlling and toxic behavior in relationships, which encompass dating, marriage, family and roommate relationship. One needs to have ample knowledge of its patterns, presenting signs and symptoms for empowering survivors of domestic abuse.
Lots of people in a relationship either do not know what abuse is, when it begins or tend to ignore it for reasons ranging from societal expectations, shame, financial and economic dependence, hopes for behavioral changes or religious reasons. It is paramount that domestic violence is understood in all its ramification to aid in curbing the act.
Types Of Domestic Abuse
Physical Abuse: Domestic violence can present in form of punching, kicking, biting, burning, choking, spitting, slapping and throwing objects.
- Emotional Abuse: Presents as constant criticism, threats to the partner, kids, extended family, putting one down in front of others or raising accusations of lying, sulking, cheating, verbal abuse and name-calling.
- Sexual Abuse: Sex against ones will or in ways that make one feel uncomfortable or degraded
- Financial Abuse: Not allowing one to have money, savings, bank accounts, spending food money, running up debts in one name.
- Forced Marriage And Honour Based Violence: Making one marry someone against ones will, bullying and controlling one’s behaviour to protect the family’s reputation.
- Stalking And Harassment: Obsessive acts of jealousy, following and checking up one, embarrassing one in public. It’s worthy of note to be aware that stalking is harassment that involves a course of conduct that amounts to stalking, either involving the fear of violence or involving serious alarm or distress while harassment is putting people in fear in any reasonable person and of fear of violence, repeated attempts of imposed communications, harassment causes harm or distress.
- Isolation: Stopping one from seeing family or friends, monitoring or blocking phone calls.
- Coercive Control Or Controlling Behavior: Stopping or changing the way one socialise, controlling whether one goes to work or not, putting one down such as being told one is worthless and humiliating one or embarrassing one, controlling one’s social media accounts, dictating what one wears.
Signs And Symptoms Of Domestic Abuse
- Physical signs include black eyes, bruises on the arms, busted lips, red or purple marks on the neck, sprained wrists.
- Emotional signs include a sense of helplessness, hopelessness or despair, agitation, anxiety, constant apprehension, changes in sleep habits (sleeping too much or not enough) developing a drug or alcohol problem, extremely apologetic or meek, loss of interest in daily activities, low self-esteem, seeming fearful, self-blaming, talking about or attempting suicide.
- Behavioral and social patterns include becoming reserved and distant, begins isolating themselves by cutting off contacts with friends and family members, shows signs of lack of financial freedom, cancel appointments or meetings with someone at the last minute, drops out of activities they would usually enjoy, exhibits excessive privacy concerning their personal life or the person with whom they are in a relationship, often late to work or other appointment and fear independent communications.
What Does It Take To Leave An Abusive Relationship
Leaving an abusive relationship is not an easy task because the majority of times the abuser is someone close, loved and cared for. Abuse in the majority of relationships is about power and control and it’s pertinent to leave the relationship because of one’s mental health and financial wellbeing likewise for the safety of the children if any.
In reality, many victims can not flee an abusive relationship despite being aware of the signs and symptoms. It takes an enormous mental and psychological strength to break free from abusive relationships since most of the time victims share family, children, friends, finance as well as emotional ties with their abusers. The majority of women are trapped in abusive relationships because they are financially dependent on their abusers, or they cannot afford to hire an attorney to initiate divorce or process long legal procedures in ensuring safety and security. In situations where the partner are in joint business and when their finances are involved jointly, they find it difficult to break free hence the need for prenuptial agreement and modus operands for the business needs to be put in place before the beginning of commitment in relationships.
But most importantly, it takes recognition of signs and symptoms of domestic abuse to know the red flags and prepare for existing. One also needs strong emotional, economic, legal and law enforcement support to be able to leave abusive relationships.
Supporting Survivors Of Domestic Abuse/Violence:
States, community and religious leaders should promote healthy and happy family life and discourage domestic violence and abuse in all ramification and foster a support system for the survivors. The major areas where survivors need support to get back to normal life after escaping abusive relationships are –
- Economic Empowerment: An increase in financial literacy or the knowledge and skills to make sound financial decisions and obtain resources
- Education: If one is well educated and independent then she will be aware of all the laws against domestic violence and take proper action when someone tries to domestically violate her and even if someone does, she can go out of that relationship and start on her own and not be dependent on anyone else.
- Legal Service: There should be strict laws against domestic violence and those laws should be effective as well so that anyone seeking for help by law should get help. Domestic violence should be seen as a crime and not as a socially accepted issue.
- Psychological And Emotional Support: Survivors of domestic violence need healing, counseling and long-term emotional support to be able to overcome the challenges and heal.
International NGOs and commissions working in the field of violence against women include:
- European institute of gender equality
- Women Against Violence Europe
- Amnesty International
- European Women’s Lobby
- International directory of domestic violence agencies
- Help for Victims of Matrimonial Abuse Foundation Nigeria
- Meherum Ahmed, Iftekhar Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury & Samanta Sharmin Laskar (2017): Domestic violence in relation to women empowerment and women household headship: A case in Nigeria. Nile Journal of Business and Economics. http://journal.nileuniversity.edu.ng/index.php/nileJBE/