Understand Relationship Abuse

We’re all affected by the issue of domestic violence. To understand relationship abuse, we must recognize that it is more than physical violence. Ending the harm and stigma of domestic violence requires a nuanced understanding of the behaviors that define it, as well as examples of healthy relationships to inform your decisions and interactions moving forward.

Abuse Defined
Domestic violence (also referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV), dating abuse, or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. People of any race, age, gender, sexuality, religion, education level, or economic status can be a victim — or perpetrator — of domestic violence. That includes behaviors that physically harm, intimidate, manipulate or control a partner, or otherwise force them to behave in ways they don’t want to, including through physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, or financial control. Multiple forms of abuse are usually present at the same time in abusive situations, and it’s essential to understand how these behaviors interact so you know what to look for. When we know what relationship looks like and means, we can then take steps to get help for ourselves as well as better support others who are experiencing abuse.

Warning Signs of Abuse
At the start of a new relationship, it’s not always easy to tell if it will later become abusive. In fact, many abusive people appear like ideal partners in the early stages of a relationship. Domestic violence warning signs don’t always appear overnight and may emerge and intensify as the relationship grows. Every relationship is different and domestic violence doesn’t always look the same. One feature shared by most abusive relationships is that the abusive partner tries to establish or gain power and control through many different methods, at different moments. Even one or two of these behaviors in a relationship is a red flag that abuse may be present. Common signs of abusive behavior in a partner include:

•Telling you that you never do anything right.

•Showing extreme jealousy of your friends or time spent away from them.

•Preventing or discouraging you from spending time with friends, family members, or peers.

•Insulting, demeaning, or shaming you, especially in front of other people.

•Preventing you from making your own decisions, including about working or attending school.

•Controlling finances in the household without discussion, including taking your money or refusing to provide money for necessary expenses.

•Pressuring you to have sex or perform sexual acts you’re not comfortable with.

•Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol.

•Intimidating you through threatening looks or actions.

•Insulting your parenting or threatening to harm or take away your children or pets.

•Intimidating you with weapons like guns, knives, bats, or mace.

•Destroying your belongings or your home. Remember: no one deserves to experience abuse of any kind—for any reason.

Source: National Domestic Violence Hotline. Visit www.thehotline.org

Legal Assistance
Any victim of domestic violence — regardless of immigration or citizenship status — can seek help. An immigrant victim of domestic violence may also be eligible for immigration-related protections. If you are experiencing domestic violence in your home, you are not alone. A specialized immigration attorney should always be your first point of contact regarding immigration questions and concerns. You can also listen to Ask the Lawyer Radio Program on WVIP 93.5FM on Thursdays, 10pm-11pm, and Sundays, 11pm to 12am. The program provides excellent information and an opportunity for a confidential, legal consultation. The number to call is 855-768- 8845. You can also visit www.askthelawyer.us.

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