Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reading the Signs of Abuse

“You always hear the excuse “he only did it this once” can that excuse be true?

This is a common question and one that doesn’t have a simple answer. The Cycle of Violence says that abuse is in fact, a cycle. That means that the cycle will follow through and repeat itself until someone or something changes. In regard to Domestic Violence and Dating Violence, the pieces that can stop the cycle are ending the relationship, someone dying, or major therapy and intervention. If the abuse happens once, without one of these three things changing, it will happen again. It may take weeks, months, or even years for the next incident to happen but it will happen again, as per the Cycle of Violence. The incident of abuse may be the same or it may escalate to something even more dangerous. My advice for someone that is saying, “It only happened once.” is that they need to examine if the potential abuse incident fits a pattern for Dating Violence or Domestic Violence. If it does then the victim needs to decide for themselves what they want to do. Do they want to see if the abuser will go to therapy? Do they want to end the relationship? Do they want to try and work on the relationship together and stop the abuse (which is the most difficult path to take without therapy)? It is better safe than sorry, if abuse has happened, it will likely happen again if something drastic change isn’t made. In any relationship, you need to choose what you want, what you are willing to deal with, and set the appropriate boundaries to ensure the relationship is safe, loving, and supportive for both people involved.

 “How do you know if someone you love is being abused (not just physically, but emotionally, too)?”

SK: There are 5 types of abuse. The two that are most frequently talked about are physical and verbal abuse. The other 3 are emotional, sexual, and psychological abuse. Physical abuse is pretty easy to define. It is any injury created physically, in order to control someone else. Verbal abuse is pretty easy also, and spoken statement that is cruel, hurtful, and designed to hurt, sadden, or shame the victim in order to control their behavior. Emotional abuse is when an abuser does hurtful things, attacks the victim with emotional attacks, insults, and statements that are damaging to their emotional state. This type of abuse can lead to depression and suicide. Sexual abuse is what it sounds like, when an abuser uses sexual acts to control their victim. Most of the time the sexual acts aren’t consensual. The victim is forced into doing something that they don’t want to do but feel they must to stay in the relationship or keep their abuser happy. Finally, psychological abuse is when the abuser uses mental tactics and games to control the victim’s behavior. Most often, one or more of these types of abuse are combined by the abuser to exert control over the victim.

The key to recognizing if someone is being abused is to know the signs. For all of the types of abuse, the signs are visible if you know what to look for. Below are early warning signs of Dating Violence and what the effects of all these types of abuse look like.

Early Warning Signs that may eventually lead to dating violence

• Over zealous jealousy-about who you talk to and what you do when you aren’t around them.

• Controlling behavior- tells you what to wear, say, act like, do.

• Quick romantic involvement-love at first sight, talk of forever, wants to see you exclusively from the first date on.

• Unpredictable mood swings

• Intimidation or impersonation of you on social networking sites- constantly commenting or contacting you on Facebook or other social networking sites. The potential offender impersonates you and creates fake profiles on networking sites in order to spread lies, create rumors, post pictures, or pressure you to do what they want you to do.

• Alcohol and drug use-though it is never the cause of dating violence it can and does magnify its effects.

• Explosive anger-tells you that your behavior is what makes them angry.

• Isolation from friends and family-wants you to be with them all the time.

• Uses force in an argument-breaking or smashing things near you or shoving/hitting you.

• Shows hypersensitivity-to what you do, say, wear, act like.

• Believes in rigid gender roles and responsibilities

• Blames others for their problems or feelings

• Cruel to animals or children

• Verbally puts you down-yells at you in front of others or privately or yells at you

• Abused former partners

• Threatens violence-because of something they feel you did or are doing against them.

• Suspicious about everybody you speak to-thinks you are cheating on them.

• Unfair expectations- you have to forgive and forget their actions immediately.

• Puts down everyone you know-including your friends, family, and/or job or activities

Possible Effects of Dating Violence on the Victim

  • Engaging in risky behaviors Making new or dangerous friends Being physically or emotionally isolated from people
  • Loss of appetite Bruises Confusion
  • Headaches Broken bones Anxiety
  • Nervousness Sadness Guilt
  • Weight loss or gain Self-blame Suicide
  • Mistrust of self/inability to make safe/smart choices Mistrust of others Feelings of terror/nightmares
  • Fear Feeling worthless Permanent injury
  • Alienation from friends Alienation from family Alienation from regular favored activities
  • Depression Shame Death

If you or a friend are feeling like you are experiencing any or all of these signs, please direct them to the National Dating Violence Hotline- 1-866-331-9474. Get information, guidance, and know you are not alone!

Please be sure to check out my featured column on Here Women Talk Ezine:

“It’s About Your Teen”

I am happy to answer questions from teens or adults.

Feel free to submit a question; email to: susie@susiekroll.com and put “HWT Question” in the subject line. You may remain anonymous.

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