Signs of Domestic Violence

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. No doubt this is a common problem in many communities and one which many people will not talk about, including the victims. It is also a fact that domestic violence does not discriminate, and anyone can potentially suffer from harassment or violence in the home.

According to experts at the Minnesota Duluth Center, physical abuse is only one part of a series of behaviors that characterize an abusive relationship.

There are several phases in the cycle of domestic violence. The cycle begins with what is known as the phase of “accumulation of tension.” In the accumulation of tension phase, the aggressor in the relationship is usually displeased and increasingly hostile. He/she pays little attention to the partner, except to perpetuate ridicule and humiliation.

The couple then enters the stage of the “acute episode“. In this phase, the tension reaches a point where the attacker loses control and acts out violently; controlling the partner through acts of physical violence (e.g. hitting, kicking, punching, etc.), and emotional abuse (i.e., humiliation). Physical violence perpetrated in this phase can range from a simple push all the way to an actual homicide. Such murders are tragically more common than many realize: the National Organization for Women cites statistics indicating that in 2005, about one third of women murdered in the United States were killed by their partners (http://www.now.org/issues/violence/stats.html#endref2)

If the person suffering from the aggression in a relationship survives the aggressive attack, then the couple enters what is known as the honeymoon phase. The tension is broken, the aggressor may feel very sorry for the violence, may ask for forgiveness, and often swears not to do it again. Sometimes he/she brings flowers and gifts. Unfortunately, after the honeymoon phase, the couple almost always returns to the accumulation of tension after a few weeks or even days. This becomes a vicious cycle from which the couple cannot easily come out.

Many people wonder why the victim does not come out of this vicious cycle. There are certain reasons why many people choose to stay in an abusive relationship:

• They fear the aggressor, to the point that they believe they will be killed if they leave.
• Often family members may not support the victim or help the victim with making a decision to leave. Cultural factors may play a role in such dynamics.
• During periods of calm (the honeymoon), the victim believes that everything will change and things will improve in the future.
• The victim is usually unaware of resources and agencies that can offer help.
• Victims may fear that that they cannot financially support themselves and/or their children on their own. Those who are undocumented may especially fear for their ability to support children on their own due to lack of work opportunities. Victims may have no access to money because the partner controls household finances.
•Undocumented victims may be afraid that if they report the abuse to the authorities, they will be deported.

It is important to know that Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Anxiety are some of the disorders that are highly correlated to domestic violence. Victims of physical, emotional, and psychological disorders may develop emotional distress and will often need help from a mental health professional to deal with these circumstances.

Seek help immediately if you are a victim of domestic violence. Don’t ignore the signs before it  is too late.

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