First, it is not about “love” or “passion”. Domestic violence is a crime. It is also about the abuser gaining and keeping control over his or her partner. It is not always male abusing female; there are too many instances of females abusing male romantic partners.
The abuser resorts to various kinds of domestic violence in order to keep the abused partner in the relationship. The partner experiencing the abuse also finds they are losing control of various aspects of life, such as money, decisions, finding or keeping a job and contact with family members or friends.
The abuser uses violence to help him/herself feel better or more powerful. “If I keep him with me, I’m attractive and lovable. If I get all of the power in our relationship, I’m strong.”
The victim of domestic violence never knows when to expect their partner to become angry or violent. The outbursts are generally unpredictable. This does not stop the victim from trying to find the “key” to gaining the approval of the violent partner, and stopping the violence once and for all. “If I just get dinner on the table on time every night, or if I could just make the food exactly the way s/he likes it, s/he’ll love me and stay loving. If I say things in just the right tone, I won’t get hit or yelled at.”
The victim is blamed for everything — “If you had just not burned the potatoes, I wouldn’t have been ‘forced’ to throw them at you. If you had just gotten home from the store exactly when I told you, you wouldn’t have gotten your face smashed into the wall.”
At first the incidents of violence are infrequent. As the abuser gains more and more control, the incidents can become more frequent and more violent.
Domestic violence is not just about hitting the victim. Violence can also be forced sex or unwanted sexual practices. Threats to hurt a loved one, such as a child or a pet, are very effective. Frequent put-downs are another characteristic of violence. The abuser also works to isolate the abused partner from friends, co-workers and family members, telling the partner, “They just want to make you look bad or get you in trouble. They don’t care about you. They don’t love you like I do.” Domestic violence can also consist of the partner threatening to harm themselves, children in the relationship or other loved ones in order to maintain control. Abusers often keep “tabs” on their partners, calling at unpredictable times of the day to ensure their partner is at home “where s/he belongs, and not out on the town”. Abusers control the money, keeping the partner on a strict allowance. They stop by the partner’s place of employment, checking on them and trying to intimidate them. Abusers use emotional abuse, such as, “You’re so fat. You’re ugly. Nobody will love you. You’re stupid. You don’t know how to talk. You don’t know how to dress. Look at her! She’s so hot! How could I have ever loved you?”
Victims don’t have to stay victims; they can seek out help from trusted friends. They can make plans to get away; they can contact their local domestic violence shelter and get counseling to find out what domestic violence is, and how they have been victimized. Remember, the danger to an abused partner and any children in the relationship is highest at the time that partner is attempting to escape.
I will check back in with you tomorrow, and post an excerpt from Stacy’s story.
Please take care,