9 Signs of Domestic Violence
Yesterday was International Women’s Day. To mark this occasion, journalist Julie Bindel has written an article about the warning signs of domestic violence.
Every single week in England and Wales, two women are killed by a current or former partner.
Domestic violence can be deadly. One of the most dangerous incidents for police officers to attend is a complaint of domestic violence. What can be done to reduce the risk to women, and the children caught in the crossfire, sustaining serious injury or even death?
One way is to understand the signs of dangerous and escalating abusive behaviour, because forewarned is forearmed. It is vital to educate the general public, not just the potential victims about the warning signs of domestic violence.
If a woman is forced to change her behaviour because she is frightened of her partner then she is being abused. If she is experiencing any of the following then it is likely that she is in a domestic violence situation:
Does he verbally abuse her?
Does he constantly criticise her?
Does he use anger and intimidation to frighten her and make her comply with his demands?
Does he tell her she’s useless and couldn’t cope without him?
Has he threatened to hurt her or people close to her if she leaves?
Does she change her behaviour to avoid making him angry?
Does he force her to have sex when she doesn’t want to?
Does he damage her possessions? Is he cruel or violent to her pets?
Is he jealous and possessive?
Does he cut her off from family and friends and try to isolate her?
Is he charming one minute and abusive the next?
Does he control her life – for example, her money, who she should see, what she should wear?
Does he monitor her movements?
Does he blame her for the abuse?
Does he humiliate or insult her in front of others?
Here are the top ten warning signs that a woman is experiencing domestic violence:
I am using the most common occurrence of domestic violence, which is a male perpetrator and female victim. Obviously there are (a minority of) male victims of female perpetrators, and there is a growing recognition of domestic violence within same sex relationships.
At the beginning of the relationship, he will equate jealously with love. The abuser will question the victim about who she talks to, accuse her of flirting, or become jealous of the time she spends with others. The abuser may call the victim frequently during the day, drop by unexpectedly, stop her from getting on with her work, question her about where she had been and who she has been speaking to. he may even ask friends or family members to ‘keep an eye’ on her.
The abuser will, at least in the beginning, claim that his controlling behaviour is merely concern for the victim. She may well feel rushed and even pressurised into committing to the relationship, and be told that if she does not wish to live with/marry him that he will leave her.
The abuser will expect the victim to take care of all his needs, both in the home, and also emotionally. She may find herself feeling totally responsible for his wellbeing and happiness.
The abuser will take steps to isolate the victim by cultivating arguments with her friends, family and colleagues and then demanding she takes sides. He will accuse these people as being bad for her, and for their relationship.
An abuser will blame others for all problems or for his own shortcomings. If he loses his job, the victim will be blamed. If he is arrested for violence towards her, ditto. If he is depressed, she will be made to feel like it is all her fault. This tactic is effective in making her feel responsible for his abuse, and therefore far less likely to disclose to either relatives/friends or police/social services.
Positions himself as the victim
He will manipulate the victim by claiming that he had never been violent prior to his relationship with the victim, and that it must be ‘something she does to make him’ feel angry and out of control. He will be easily insulted, perceiving the slightest setbacks as personal attacks.
Escalation of physical violence
The abuser may have abided by his own set of ‘rules’ for sometime, such as never hitting her in the face, or causing such injury that a doctor or hospital became involved. He may also attack her in front of witnesses.
Ill treatment of children
Some domestic violence abusers are also violent to the children in the household (whether he is the father or step father). Often, the children will be used as ‘bait’ in order for him to punish the victim, especially if she has given him a final warning about his behaviour, or suggested that she will leave him if he does not cease to be violent.
Use of coercion in sex
Insisting on sex when the victim is ill or tired is one way for the abuser to show her ‘who is boss’ and to dehumanise her. Initially, his tactics could be simply to insist on what he wants, when he wants it, but this can progress to more sadistic and violent episodes. The victim will be told that what he is doing is ‘not rape’. and that he is showing her how much he loves her. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Women deserve better. We all deserve to be safe and respected. None of this behaviour is love – rather it is a demonstration of his power and control over another individual. If you or someone you know is the victim of violence and abuse from a partner, tell a friend, neighbour, family member, or police officer. Or talk to a solicitor about your options for civili remedies. No one should face domestic violence and its consequences alone.