Warning Signs Checklist
Domestic Abuse is a pattern of controlling and coercive behavior that can involve physical, sexual, economic, emotional and psychological abuse. It affects people who are married, divorced, living together, or dating. People in heterosexual or homosexual relationships from all social, economic, racial, religious and ethnic groups can experience domestic abuse. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, but women are by far the most common victims.
The Victim Services Program makes every effort to address the needs of a victim of domestic violence. We realize that a victim may choose to leave the offender at this time, however, we can provide them with tools to make an informed decision.
Cycle of abuse
- Tension-building - This is a time of minor conflicts and, possibly, some physical abuse. This stage may last from a few hours to many months. The victim is aware of the building tension and tries to please and humor the abuser.
- Battering phase - This may be triggered by a small quarrel. Once an attack starts, there's usually little the victim can do to stop it. Apologizing and reasoning with the abuser seldom works.
- Honeymoon phase - The abuser feels ashamed and guilty, and promises it will never happen again. The abuser may be on his best behavior for a while and treat the victim with great kindness and generosity. He can be as charming as the man she fell in love with. But sooner or later, the cycle starts again. The cycle may get shorter and shorter as the abuse goes on.
Many women feel trapped in abusive relationships
They may find it hard to leave because of:
- A low sense of self-worth - Repeated abuse can chip away at a woman's self-esteem. This may prevent her from leaving the relationship. Physical abuse there is usually accompanied by emotional abuse.
- A fear of more violence - Often, a woman's attempts to leave result in more severe attacks. Studies have shown that leaving is the most dangerous time for a woman.
- Financial dependence - Financial dependence on her partner can make it hard for a woman to leave. This is especially true if there are children involved.
- False hope - Abused women usually love their partners. They want to believe their partner's promises to change. (Without outside help this change rarely happens.)
- Religious or cultural beliefs - These may lead a woman to think that her first priority is to keep the family together.
- Isolation - As an abuser's control increases, the victim may become cut off from friends and family or feel that no one cares.
Review this brief checklist of behaviors that can help you identify whether or not you are abused by your partner.
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