Domestic Violence Explained
Domestic violence refers to physical or any other kind of abuse like mental abuse by one person against another in a domestic environment. Many people wrongly assume that only women are victims of domestic violence which isn’t true. Domestic violence doesn't stop at women; its victims include men too.
The main reason that this view is held is that men are larger than women and are therefore immune to abuse. It also doesn’t help that in most cases of domestic violence reported the victim is a woman. Men are much less likely to report being victims of domestic violence because of a plethora of reasons. Some of the reasons that men don’t report abuse are talked about below.
- Gender roles condition men to not express their feelings and to not recognize when they are victims of abuse.
- As already mentioned, there are stereotypes and beliefs at large in a society that only men can be abusers and women can only be victims.
- When men speak out about abuse, it is often thought of as a joke and treated less seriously.
- Many male victims believe that there aren’t any resources or support available to help them.
A common trend seen in victims of domestic abuse is that they often choose to stay with their abusive partners. This can be attributed to the circumstances in which the abuse takes place which makes it difficult for them to leave. An abuser consciously or sub-consciously makes sure that the victim is completely dependent on the abuser before actually engaging in abusive behavior. Some of the most common ways that an abuser makes a victim dependent on them are listed below.
- Financial dependence – When the abuser is the only one with an income, it makes it hard for the victim to leave because the victim isn’t able to support himself/herself.
- Social isolation – Abusers commonly employ this tactic because while the victim is technically free to leave, they can’t leave because they have no one else to take them in.
- Blackmail – Another common tactic used by abusers is blackmail. The abuser blackmails the victim to stay because the abuser possesses embarrassing material or knows something about the victim that the victim doesn’t want to be revealed.
- The honeymoon phase – During the honeymoon phase, a couple meets, gets married with things going well. A slight power differential might exist, but it is so small that it isn’t enough to cause any problems.
- Tension – A single event or a slow decline in the quality of a relationship helps the abusers’ power grow. This naturally makes their tendency to abuse grow too. A victim will commonly feel as if they are walking on eggshells when they are around their abuser. There are no outward signs of abuse during this phase, but the relationship isn’t healthy either.
- Violence – In this phase, all gloves are off. Physical, mental and emotional abuse takes place with the victim being dependent on the abuser as they are isolated from their friends and family. The victim often clings to memories of the honeymoon phase as hope that the situation will change. The violence in this phase is often extreme.
- The cycle begins again – The abuse stops only when the abuser is caught or when the victim looks for help. When the victim goes back to the abuser, the relationship goes back to the honeymoon phase with the abuser keeping the victim close and trying to re-establish the power difference. The victim experiences feelings of validation and relief that the abuser does, in fact, love them.
This cycle repeats itself each time the victim returns to the abuser. The more time the cycle repeats itself, the shorter each cycle becomes.
Reach out for help if you are experiencing domestic abuse. There are many resources online which can help you, even if you feel like there is no way out. If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic violence or any symptoms in your family and/or friends that may resemble domestic violence. Call National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.