The numbers are growing. Over 10 million women and men are victims of intimate partner violence, but the totals have increased regularly. Perhaps, it’s because victims feel freer to report their pain and suffering to doctors, counselors, and the law.
CNN uses the Center for Disease Control definition of domestic violence as “victimization by current and former spouses or current and former dating partners. Violence can include physical, sexual, emotional, and economic abuse.”
Sadly, there is nothing new in this. But, domestic violence remains shrouded in fear and shame. Sometimes, friends, family, and co-workers are the first to realize what’s hidden behind the walls of relationships.
5 Signs of Domestic Abuse That Are Not as Easy to Spot:
- Breaks and bruises. Accidents happen, but when they happen frequently, it may be a sign of trouble. If you find a friend hiding bruises or having difficulty explaining repeated bruises to face, arms, or other visible parts of the body, she needs support and advice.
When that treatment reaches the level of lacerations or fractures, that friend or relative has already reached a crisis point requiring medical, psychological, and legal counseling.
- Diminished Personality. Abusers often browbeat victims verbally and psychologically. With constant remarks, they undermine the victims’ personality, making them feel small, incompetent, shallow, and worse.
The victims appear exceptionally shy, sad, or inhibited. They withdraw from social connections, avoid family, and end friendships. Or, they buy into the pressure. They gain or lose weight, stop taking care of themselves, and ignore their appearance.
- Public Humiliation. The dominant partner will humiliate the partner with contemptuous remarks or threats of violence. Attorneys at Fremstad, often notice such behavior in their family law and criminal litigation experience.
The abuser may push or shove the victim, crowd and overwhelm the partner, or shout and scream regardless of co-workers, friends, family, or children.
- Possessive and Controlling. It may be less noticeable, but the abuser will freeze the victim’s ability to spend money. Taking control of all family finances, the abuser will limit or stop the victim’s ability to shop, pay bills, or buy necessities.
And, when finances are bad or bills unpaid, the abuser blames the victim spouse. The spouse may be forced to borrow for basics, go without personal needs, and accumulate bills for children and family musts.
- Defensive and Paranoid. Abuse victims may lose their bearings. Perhaps out of fear of more violence, they will defend the abuse. Perhaps out of social embarrassment, they will deny the problem.
They may extend their fear. Thinking from their emotionally and psychologically diminished position, they worry about treatment by others. If the husband is the abuser, the spouse might extend that fear to all men.
What’s hidden behind the walls?
Psychology Today observes, “Secrets can kill you, literally. But victims of domestic violence often suffer silently.” Their silence is part of the process. Shame keeps them thinking things will get better. But, as time and the abuse continue, the threat deepens in reality and perception.
The victims need support from whatever quarter able and willing to help. But, knowing when and how sometimes take a professional to read the signs of domestic violence that are not always so easy to spot.