According to WomensLaw.com, “1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” The site also states that “nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner…” There is clearly a problem with domestic abuse.
These statistics only reflect domestic abuse cases that have been reported or witnessed. There is no way of knowing how many instances of violent abuse go undetected. However, you can be a part of stopping the violence by being observant and looking for the following 5 signs of domestic abuse.
One of the most common signs that someone is the victim of domestic abuse is isolation. They will stop hanging out with friends and family by giving odd excuses. Abusers want their partners to think that they are the only person needed—friends and family are secondary.
If you notice that someone who is typically outgoing starts to only spend time with their partner, try to have a talk with them. Isolation and withdrawal are heavy indicators that abuse is occurring.
Disagreements and emotions are a part of relationships. No two people will ever see eye-to-eye and disagreements can often bring on certain emotions. But a person shouldn’t be scared of making their partner feel a certain way.
If you recognize this, it could be a sign that the victim is worried that they will be abused because of their partner’s temper or emotional instability. Constant fear and avoidance of doing anything wrong to upset someone else are controlling and damaging to a person’s self-worth.
This sign is sometimes hard to pick up on. Often, couples will sarcastically insult one another all in good fun—or at least, one person is having fun. Look out for “body-shaming” insults that go over the top for public conversation. The abuser will have no sympathy for how they are making their partner feel.
Listen for overly-critical comments that are out of place or have no relevance to the current topic of conversation. Also, be mindful of the victim’s reaction to the insult and try to determine how it makes them feel.
One of the most prevalent emotions associated with a victim of domestic abuse is shame. The victim feels that everything they do and the abuse that they suffer is their fault. Because of this, they’ll make excuses or apologize on behalf of their partner.
If you notice that someone is accepting the blame for how they are being treated by their partner, abuse may be the reason. When a victim takes the blame or makes an excuse they are hoping to diffuse the situation so that abuse doesn’t happen later on.
Victims of domestic abuse will undoubtedly make up excuses or give poor reasons for marks or injuries that they have. Although bruises and scratches from pets or bumping into furniture are common, if a pattern is present something else may be going on.
If you see large bruises on parts of the body such as the neck, arm, face, or ribs, domestic abuse could be a possibility. Again, if a pattern persists, pull the victim aside and ask if everything is okay. Gauge their response time and eye contact to determine if they are telling the truth or silently crying for help.
If you are fairly certain that someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org.