Domestic Violence is defined by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) as the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.
If you worry that someone you care about is in an abusive relationship, there are steps you can take to help. Consider the following do’s and don'ts when approaching a friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor, or other loved one.
Approach the other person at a time and place that is safe and confidential.
Start by expressing concern (ie. “I am concerned someone may be hurting you, and I am worried about your safety.”)
Communicate that you care about your loved one’s safety, that they do not deserve to be hurt, and that the abuse is not their fault
Tell them good things about themselves. Let them know you think they are smart, strong, and brave.
Encourage them to build a wide support system. Help find a support group or encourage them to talk to friends and family.
Be patient. Self-empowerment may take longer than you want. Go at the victim’s pace, not yours. Respect their choices.
- Don't accuse, diagnose, or judge your loved one’s choices. Don’t draw conclusions about what they may be experiencing or feeling, and do not judge or criticize their abuser.
- Do not pressure your friend to leave the abusive relationship. There are many reasons they may be choosing to stay. It is possible the abuser threatened to hurt them or their children if they try to leave. The abuser may control all of their finances and may have isolated the victim from their family and friends leaving them with very little resources of their own.
- Do not feel the need to be an expert or try to provide counseling or advice, but do connect your friend to trained people who can help.
Domestic violence does not always manifest as physical abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as extreme as physical violence. Lack of physical violence does not mean the abuser is any less dangerous to the victim, not does it mean the victim is any less trapped by the abuse. Some common warning signs of domestic violence include:
- Public humiliation
- Isolation from family & friends
- Dictating behavior, privileges, or responses & opinions
- Extreme possessiveness and demonstrated ownership; says things like “I can’t live without you” or “You are my whole world.”
- Constant need to know whereabouts & expecting that all free time is spent with him/her. Stalking or monitoring every move (in person or via the internet, phone, or other tracking device).
- Insistence on controlling all of the money
- Criticizes appearance, weight, clothes, etc.
- Angers easily
- Dual personality – charming in public, aggressive in private
- Doesn’t want you to know about his or her past
- Blames all past relationship problems on the ex-partner
- Suggests reasons for the victim to fear ending the relationship
- Shows jealousy toward family, friends, children or job
- Forces sex or sexual acts
- Destroying the victim’s property
If you or someone you care about are experiencing domestic violence, please contact Lakes Crisis & Resource Center or another domestic violence agency. Our local and toll free numbers with advocates available 24 hours a day are: 218-847-7446 & 877-754-9683.