Domestic Violence is a dark secret in our society that nobody wants to talk about it. It lurks in neighborhoods of color and majority, where there is wealth or poverty. Where hurt, pain, and shame dwell, domestic violence can form in any intimate partner relationship.
Domestic Violence is primarily considered to affect females. In the United States alone, 1 in 7 men reports having experienced severe physical trauma from an intimate partner in their lifetime (cdc.gov). These are the numbers that are reported. How many incidents go unreported? Many find themselves in these relationships without recognizing or heeding the early signs that creep in, like dust settling over the night sky.
These toxic relationships do not usually begin with physical abuse. In fairytale romance, the initial signs are ignored. The couple seems to be made for one another, and there is often co-habitation early in the relationship. From an outside perspective, it can seem as though the relationship is almost picture perfect with lots of doting and affection.
The quintessential red flag is to isolate or limit the other person’s access to connect with outside influences, including family and friends. Comments like “you are so dumb, just shut up” can be excused as merely insulting or rude but is, in fact, verbal abuse. Perpetrators begin to erode the confidence and self-esteem of the victim slowly.
Another sign that a relationship could be moving towards domestic violence is increased control. Domestic violence victims find they are in a relationship with an overly jealous person or someone who wants to decide what they eat and where they go. In the beginning, these actions by the abuser may be more subtle and appear to the victim as protective or endearing. When all the doors close around them, victims can feel guilt at their thoughts of wanting to do something different from their partner wants. This leads to over-compliance, which creates a greater opportunity for the perpetrator to expand control over more facets of life like finances, employment, and family planning.
Ultimately, feeling worthless, choiceless, and trapped, the perfect environment for domestic violence to fester and escalate has been created.
Every relationship is different and requires a personal awareness of what is happening. Becoming aware of patterns and not justifying or excusing inappropriate behavior allows a potential victim to retain control and get out before a relationship becomes unhealthy or abusive.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or anyone you know is experiencing this type of relationship and lives in the United States, call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to get help and connect with resources. The more we discuss this hidden issue, the more support we can provide those in need.
* * *
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo Credit: goffkeinpro on Shutterstock