The first step of preventing domestic violence is knowing how to see the signs that abuse is occurring. If you suspect that a family member is being abused, there are laws in place to protect them.
It is estimated that a woman is assaulted every nine seconds in the United States alone. Out of all the potential hazards in today’s world – car accidents, rapes, robberies – domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women. Not only that, but 33% of all females who were murdered in the U.S. were murdered by their husband, partner, or boyfriend. 80% of these victims had been previously abused by the killer. This is not just an issue that affects couples either. With some estimates as high as 10 million every year, children are witnesses to and victims of domestic violence as well.
According to the U.S. Office on Violence Against Women, domestic violence is a pattern of behavior with the purpose of gaining control over the victim. The definition of domestic violence is more than just physical violence. Other types of domestic abuse include sexual, emotional, verbal, and economic. These events are usually not isolated, but are part of a violent and destructive pattern within a family. This violence can be targeting a spouse, intimate partner, child, parent, extended family member, or any other household member. Domestic violence can also extend past this definition to include child endangerment, stalking, criminal coercion, and more.
Physical abuse is perhaps the most obvious as it is more difficult to cover up broken bones than it is to cover up demeaning behavior. Physical abuse is hitting, pushing, kicking, beating, etc. or any threats of violence. Often victims need medical attention because of this behavior, or succumb to their injuries and die. Other forms of physical violence include depriving the victim of necessities like food, water, shelter, and sleep. It could also include forcing them to consume alcohol or drugs. Some offenders may even kill or harm a pet for the sole purpose of gaining control of the victim and instilling fear into them.
Another form of domestic violence is sexual abuse and this can be towards a spouse or child. Even if they are already married or intimate, any sexual contact that is against their will is sexual abuse. Some victims are forced into prostitution, some into child pornography, and some are raped by their spouse or parent. Emotional abuse and verbal abuse are closely related. Any behavior that humiliates and demeans the victim is against the law and does not have to be tolerated. Threats, blackmailing, criticism, name-calling, and more are all forms of domestic abuse. If you are being abused, one option available to you is to seek legal representation. By taking out an order of protection, your abuser could be legally required to stay away from you and your children.