Despite everything we hear about it, there is really no absolute way to
be certain that someone is a victim of domestic violence.
Also known as relationship abuse, domestic violence is defined as a pattern
of abusive or violent behavior to a partner. It can physically harm, create
fear, or force the partner to behave in ways that make them uncomfortable.
It can include the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation.
We know from media reports and speaking with friends that domestic violence
does not discriminate. It happens with some frequency to people regardless
of race, gender, age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. And, because
relationships vary, domestic abuse is also manifested in different ways.
It is important to remember that domestic violence is all about power and
control. Most victims will not talk about what goes on in their home.
It is up to you, an acquaintance, friend or relative, to see the signs.
They may include:
Absences from work, school, or other regularly scheduled activities: After severe trauma, the victim may take time away from her/his normal
schedule. In some cases, bruises and injuries may be noticeable. The intent
of the batterer is to keep the victim isolated and trapped at home.
Frequent injuries and claiming of ‘accidents’: If someone you know starts wearing heavier makeup or clothing, they may
be doing this to hide signs of physical abuse.
Low self-esteem and self-worth: Do you think to yourself ‘What ever happened to the person I knew?’
Some victims become passive or begin to exhibit low self-esteem, while
others have a great deal of confidence in most other areas of their life,
but not within their relationship.
Isolation and control: Does someone suddenly have limited access to friends, family, transportation,
or money? Do they make excuses about not seeing you?
Onset of depression or anxiety: Do you find that a person who is usually outgoing becomes quiet around
their partner? Have they lost interest in activities they once loved?
Are they sleeping too much or too little?
The only way to end domestic violence is to be aware. If you can, ask the
person you perceive to be a victim about it. There are also
numerous organizations whose sole purpose is to help victims of domestic abuse. If possible,
work with the victim to