DV Awareness Month: What is Domestic Violence

Sorry for the delay it posting this, I got caught up in life and missed my own deadline! This is last week’s DV post that I was planning on sharing last Tuesday: What is Domestic Violence?

Like I briefly mentioned in my previous post about my own story, I used to think that DV was only physical abuse. If you didn’t have a bruise or a broken nose, then it wasn’t really DV. I believe this is a common misconception, for those who are experiencing these relationships (which they use to downplay their experience or justify their partners behavior), and for the general population, who may not work with this population nor ever experience a DV relationship.

There are actually 6 types of abuse: Physical, Verbal, Emotional, Psychological, Financial and Sexual

I think most people can picture what Physical abuse is. The typical idea that society has of a battered woman with a black eye and a broken nose. However, I was surprised to learn through the course of my career and education, that “trapping” is also a form of physical abuse. Trapping a victim in a corner with your body, blocking the door and not allowing them to leave, etc. That is also considered physical abuse and is eligible for arrest (at least in CA).

Verbal abuse, Emotional Abuse and Psychological abuse I often see tied together. This is the abuser that insults their victim, learns their weaknesses and what aspects of themselves they are ashamed of and exploits it. This is the abuser who shreds a victims self-esteem, telling her she will never be successful, that she is stupid and ugly.  The abuse is verbal, but it has a huge effect on a victims emotional and psychological health.

From my experience in working with victims, many of them say that the verbal/emotional/psychological abuse is often worse then the physical, and that the effects are deeper and harder to repair. When they finally leave the relationship, they are no longer the self-confidant successful women that they were, their mental health is so broken that it takes years to even begin to put themselves back together. Where as a bruise or a broken bone will heal with time, psychological and mental damage may never go away.

Financial abuse is fairly straightforward, and something that most people can understand. It can involve withholding money or stealing money. However, it can also be withholding resources (such as food, clothing, shelter) or preventing someone from working or choosing an occupation.

Sexual abuse extends beyond what most people immediately think of as sexual assault/rape. It can also be coercion, sexual harassment, cheating, forcing someone to watch pornographic material or videotaping sexual intercourse without permission.

I realize that his post was very explicit, perhaps I should have put a warning in the beginning. But in some ways, I don’t think it’s something that should be glossed over. This is the reality of DV, a reality that many women are experiencing on a daily basis. Should we turn a blind eye just because it’s ugly and makes us uncomfortable?

This Tuesday I will hopefully catch up and post about Why Women Stay. I believe it is the most misunderstood topic relating to DV, and one that I have a real passion for and hope that you all read.