Now that it’s October and Domestic Violence Awareness month, it’s time to start talking about this epidemic of intimate abuse that can affect people as young as school-aged up to senior citizens. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be married or even cohabiting to experience domestic abuse—it can happen while dating, in long-term relationships or between people who have only known each other a short while.
Here are some of the risk factors to watch for when you are dating, or things to look out for in your friends’ relationships—because we need to have each other’s backs!
An abuser may:
1. Monitor your comings and goings. They may check your cell phone without permission and search your computer history, too. Because they are trying to control you, your privacy becomes limited.
2. Isolate you from your friends and family. There’s a reason they are trying to separate you from or turn you against the people you love and trust. When you are isolated, you become more susceptible to an abuser's agenda.
3. Make you feel worthless. Someone you’re dating is supposed to make you feel fantastic and great about yourself. This person, on the other hand, makes you feel stupid, inferior and worthless.
4. Exhibit extreme jealousy. Do they accuse you of looking at other people and act possessive of you and your attention? In a healthy relationship, you would be trusted to have outside friends.
5. Be prone to sudden outbursts. Their mood swings go from high to low and you never know which “person” you’re going to get.
Monitoring your spending or limiting your access to funds is a very strong way for an abuser to keep you around and keep you silent.
6. Try to take over your finances. Monitoring your spending or limiting your access to funds is a very strong way for an abuser to keep you around and keep you silent.
7. Physically hurt you. This can include, but is not limited to, grabbing, hitting, kicking or strangling. It doesn’t matter if you were arguing or if you were getting physical too—it’s not OK.
8. Emotionally abuse you. The abuser may threaten, insult, give you the silent treatment or even stalk you. Remember, getting a restraining order is an option.
9. Sexually abuse you. This can include rape, coercion into sex acts or restricting your access to birth control.
10. Apologize and try to win you back. Just when your abuser thinks you might leave, they will turn on the charm, apologize, vow to change and blame outside people or factors for the situation. Don’t learn the hard way that a reminder of the good times will in no way prevent the abuse from happening again.
If you are the victim of domestic/dating violence, don’t be embarrassed. If the above sounds a little too familiar, reach out to family, friends, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 911 if necessary. No one is immune to domestic violence, but no one deserves it!