What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is commonly understood as the physical abuse in a relationship but domestic
violence includes emotional, sexual and financial abuse. The abuse whether physically and/or emotional is done to dominate or control the other person. In the United States there are laws to prevent and punish those guilty of committing such heinous acts.
“Physical abuse is the use of physical force against someone in a way that injures or endangers that person. Physical assault or battering is a crime, whether it occurs inside or outside of the family. The police have the power and authority to protect you from physical attack” (Smith, MA , and Segal, Ph.D.).
Emotional abuse should not be viewed as less damaging because it can in fact cause more pain to the victim than physical abuse: physical bruises heal but the memories of the actions and words of the abuser last longer. Abusers try to make the victim feel worthless and often verbally abuse them, call them names, make the victim feel at fault, tell them everything they do is shameful and wrong. Abusers also threaten violence to gain control and “make the victim feel that there is no way out of the relationship or that without your abusive partner you have nothing”.
Financial abuse is another way an abuser can gain control over the victim. Abusers may exercise their control by questioning the spending of money, withholding money, not allowing a victim to work or forcing a victim to be unreliable (always late or missing work) or even quit their job.
Sexual abuse is when a victim is forced to engage in a sexual activity. A spouse may undergo sexual abuse if forced to have sex or engage in any unwanted and/or unsafe sexual activity.
Who does Domestic Violence affect?
Domestic violence can affect anyone. Although women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence men are also victims to domestic violence. Also, it can affect any age, gender, ethnic, sexual oriented group.
What are the signs of Domestic Violence?
Helpguide.org created a list of questions to help you identify if you are in an abusive relationship. The more you answer yes the more likely that you are in an abusive relationship.
If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, look for these warning signs:
What to do if someone you know is being abused?
Is hesitant to go home.
Seems uncomfortable or afraid when around their partner.
Is constantly telling their partner where they plan to go and with whom.
Is prevented from participating in social events.
Money is strictly monitored.
Is depressed, has low-self esteem.
Receives frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner.
Talks about their partner’s control or temper
Make excuses that injuries are because he/she is clumsy
Frequently miss work, school, or social occasions, without explanation.
Dresses in loose clothing to hide injuries.
If you have reviewed the signs of abuse and suspect that someone you know is being abused, you should talk to them about your concern. The worst that could happen is that they will be angry with you for suggesting that they are being abused. When speaking genuinely express your concern and reassure the victim that the conversation is confidential. Do not directly ask if they are being abused but rather ask if something is wrong. Listen to what they have to say. If there is a problem, express how you would like to help, not solve their problem. You should support the decision made whether you agree with it or not. Later he/she may change his/her mind but if you did not show support, he/she will not come to you for support after.
Although it is very important to speak up to someone you think is being abuse here are some things that you should not
do: “wait for him or her to come to you, judge or blame, pressure him or her, give advice, place conditions on your support”.
What to do if you are being abused?
What Islam says about Domestic Violence
Download an information pdf created by WISE (Women's Islamic Initative in Spirituality and Equality.
Find Local Agencies that specialize in domestic violence cases
If you are in immediate danger call 911. The police will come immediately and take a statement of everything that happened.
Tell a neighbor, friend or relative. They can be a witness if needed in the future, can help give you information about local organizations that deals with domestic violence and a can provide a safe haven for a night or two.
Find a local organization that may be able to provide you legal, financial, child and moral support.
There are more details on what to do to be safe such as finding a safe place, getting medical care, how to get personal protection orders and making a safety plan from Oakland County Coordinating Council Against Domestic violence, by clicking here.
Domestic Violence. Oakland County Coordinating Council Against Domestic Violence, n.d. Web. 7 Feb 2012. <http://www.domesticviolence.org/>.
Smith, MA, Melinda, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.. "Domestic Violence and Abuse Signs Of Abuse And Abusive Relationships." HelpGuide.org. N.p., 12 2011. Web. 7 Feb 2012. <http://helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_types_signs_causes_effects.htm>.