One in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. Women between the ages of 20 and 24 are most likely to be abused by a partner and be in an abusive relationship, and each year, it is estimated that more than 3 million children will witness violence in their homes.
Studies indicate that Hispanic couples are twice as likely to participate in and fall victim to an abusive relationship. Partner violence is the number one cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, rape and muggings combined.
Characteristics of abusers:
- Individuals who grew up witnessing abuse as children are far more likely to become abusers as adults.
- People with feelings of entitlement and lack of remorse for actions. They often view themselves as a “judge and jury” of the people around them, feeling as though their abusive actions are warranted.
- Poor self-esteem that manifests as false bravado or cockiness, anger and issues with control.
- Inability to own up to mistakes, often blaming other people for “making” them behave a certain way.
- Expressions and feelings of resentment, blaming other people and outside forces for the abusers inability to feel happy and successful.
- Inability to wait for delayed gratification; very “now” oriented and impatient.
- General disrespect for others; harboring a belief that there are things a woman can do to force a man to act out in violence. They might believe something like, “She pushed me to a point where I had no choice but to hit her.”
What are the signs you are in an abusive relationship?
- …ever feel afraid of your partner.
- …wonder if you’re crazy, or if you’re imagining signs of abuse.
- …avoid topics or situations that might make your partner angry.
- …feel like you can’t do anything right in your partner’s eyes.
- …feel numb inside or like there’s no point in trying to make your life better
What are the signs that indicate your partner is an abuser?
Your partner might be abusive if …
- …yells at, criticizes and humiliates you, or puts you down and calls you names.
- …is possessive and controls what you do, who you talk to and where you go.
- …is paranoid and jealous, accusing you of cheating or betraying him when you haven’t.
- …belittles or ignores your accomplishments and undermines special events in your life by acting out emotionally or aggressively.
- …talks badly about your family and friends, attempting to alienate you from the people who love you.
- …hurts you or threatens to hurt or kill you.
- …forces you to have sex, or withholds sex from you as a form of punishment.
- …expects you to have sex on demand, viewing you as a sexual property.
- …blames you for forcing him/her to hurt or belittle you.
- …withholds money or the use of a phone or car.
- …explodes in unpredictable bouts of anger.
- …threatens to commit suicide or harm/take your children if you try to leave him/her.
It’s important to remember that you are a victim of abuse, even if violence has only happened once or twice during your relationship, if the incidents are not as severe as some you’ve read or heard about, even if your partner apologizes and momentarily changes the problem behavior or if the violence lessens when you behave in a more passive way, stop “pushing buttons,” or when you agree to stop going certain places or seeing certain people.
It is not a victory against violence if you have to give up your rights as a person. Infrequent, small acts of abuse get worse and more plentiful as time goes on.
If you feel as though you’re trapped in an abusive relationship, reach out to friends and family and the authorities if your partner is a threat to your safety. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE for help and support in making a plan to get your life back.