Domestic violence is a silent epidemic that is not discussed enough. More than ten million adults in the United States experience domestic abuse each year, affecting the lives of a huge portion of the population. It’s an issue that affects people of all genders and does not discriminate against any race, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic class.
However, domestic violence is still a widely dismissed and misunderstood concept. Many people believe that only physical violence counts as abuse or that the situation should remain a private matter. visit here
Because of this, many people overlook the warning signs of domestic violence or may dismiss any abuse that is not physical. This article aims to provide a thorough introduction and explanation of what domestic violence is as well as a list of its lesser-known signs.
Table of Contents
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence refers to any violence or abuse that occurs within a household. Though it commonly refers to spousal violence or intimate partner violence, the truth is that domestic violence can occur to any family member or anyone living within the household.
Domestic violence occurs when the abuser wants to control or manipulate someone within their home. Abuse takes a variety of forms and can affect all people of any age, gender, race, or sexual orientation.
A common misconception is that domestic violence is purely physical abuse. However, domestic abuse can also be verbal, emotional, financial, and sexual as well. Any means that the abuser uses to coerce or control someone is considered abuse.
There are many behaviors and tactics that abusers use that very few people consider abuse. This can make it much harder for people to see that their loved one is in an unsafe environment. Some typical behaviors that many people don’t realize are abuse include:
- Jealousy and possessiveness
- Controlling finances
- Blaming, gaslighting, and accusations
- Living in the home without making any contributions to the household
- Looking through someone’s phone messages without their consent
- Tracking someone on social media
- Sending unwanted texts or leaving unwanted gifts
- Spreading rumors and gossip/talking behind the person’s back
Lesser-Known Signs of Domestic Violence
Since most people look out for physical signs, such as bruises and scrapes, it’s easy to overlook other signs of domestic abuse. However, if the abuse is primarily verbal or emotional, there will probably not be any physical signs on your loved one’s body. This is where it is important to know and understand all the other signs that your loved one is being abused.
Even if there are no obvious bruises or scrapes, there may still be some signs that the abuse is taking a toll on their physical body. These signs can include:
- Altered sleep patterns
- Sudden changes in diet/weight
- Wearing clothing that may cover up any signs of physical abuse
Another important factor is behavior. Your loved one will act quite differently when around their abuser. They may also develop different habits over time as a result of being manipulated or controlled. Some behavioral changes to look out for are:
- Isolating from friends and family
- Always eager to please the abuser
- Not allowed to spend money; never having any money on hand
- Frequently checking in with the abuser
- Negative self-talk
- Increased substance use
- Very apologetic and meek
- Loss of interest in hobbies and daily activities
- Often late to meetings, work, or outings
- Frequently breaking up and making up with the abuser
All forms of abuse often take a toll on the person’s mental health. Symptoms of a mental illness alone with some of the other signs listed above can confirm that a person is unsafe at home. The common emotional and mental symptoms exhibited by someone who is abused includes:
- Low self-esteem
- Discussing suicide*
- Constant fear
Now that you understand what domestic violence is and what it looks like, you may be wondering what you can do if someone you love is being abused. The truth is that helping out a loved one experiencing domestic violence is a delicate matter. There may not always be an easy way to help, even if you have the best of intentions.
However, knowing both the obvious and not so obvious signs of domestic violence is a good start. Now you know what to look out for and can gauge how serious the situation is.
Sometimes being open to any assistance or just having an empathetic ear can make a world of difference. You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1.800.799.SAFE (7233)) for more information, resources, or guidance on how to help with the situation.
*If you or a loved one are currently considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)).