Domestic violence is when one intimate partner uses abusive behaviors to gain power and control over another. A pattern of coercive control can involve behaviors that include physical and sexual assault; intimidation; and many types of non-physical abuses. The abusive behaviors cause fear, and physical and emotional harm. They can force you to do something you do not want to do, and prevent you from doing something you want to do. You experience a pattern of unfair, and uncalled-for control over your life.
Physical acts of abuse and threats of physical abuse are legally defined as criminal behavior and labeled “domestic violence.” The physical or battering behaviors can include: kicking, pushing, restraining, hitting, choking, pinching, throwing objects at you and around you, and forcing you into sex against your will (rape), etc. So, when physical violence and threats are not present, the conclusion, although false, is that no abuse is taking place. Clearly, physical violence gets our attention. However, you need to know that this is not nearly the whole story.
“Psychological abuse may affect a woman’s overall psychological well-being to the same extent as physical abuse or battering (Katz & Arias, 2000).
Psychological abuse endangers you the most, yet it is the aspect of domestic violence that remains the most elusive. The non-physical abuses include verbal, emotional and mental abuse, that fall under the heading of psychological abuse. These tactics can include, for example, intimidating, frightening gestures, purposefully harassing you, crude language to insult you, twisting your words to mean something other than your intent, blaming you for things that aren’t your fault, isolating you by blocking contact with family and friends, etc. Ultimately, it will affect your sense of self, your view of the relationship with your spouse or boyfriend, and your connection with the world surrounding you. So it is easy to understand how psychological abuse, just because it’s hard to see, is made powerful and effective. Yet, as one woman in my group pointed out, “Psychological abuse is not illegal.” So, in the end, women have to protect themselves.
If you have other questions regarding domestic violence or would like to learn more about what is domestic violence, visit my website for more information. For help, see Resources. For immediate help, call 911.