Domestic violence is a breach of human rights.
It occurs in relationships between spouses or intimate partners and when one person tries to control the other person. The perpetrator uses intimidation and fear and threatens or may actually use physical violence.
Domestic violence causes fear, physical and/or psychological harm. Research shows that living with domestic violence has a profound effect on children and young people. It is a form of child abuse.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Domestic violence can include:
- Physical assault (including kicking, hitting, punching, slapping, holding, restraining, confinement, pushing, choking, the use of weapons, breaking bones, burning; and includes murder);
- Verbal abuse (including shouting, name-calling and swearing at you);
- Sexual assault (being forced to have sex or participate in sexual activities);
- Emotional abuse (constantly putting you down, threatening to hurt you, your children or your pets, making you feel worthless, critiscising your personality, your looks, the way you dress). It can also include excessive checking up on you to make sure you are at home or where you said you would be. Saying hurtful things whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol and using the substance to say the hurtful things;
- Social abuse (being stopped from seeing friends and family, isolating you geographically or socially);
- Damaging property such as the house, furniture in order to threaten or intimidate you;
- Stalking or monitoring every move. Stalkers use a number of threatening tactics:
- Following, tracking;
- Repeated phone calls, sometimes with hang ups;
- Suddenly showing up where the victim is, at home, school or work;
- Sending unwanted packages, cards, gifts or letters;
- Contacting the victim’s friends, family, co-workers or neighbours and asking questions about the victim;
- Going through the victim’s garbage.
Stalking is unpredictable. It should always be considered dangerous.
- Psychological abuse and “crazy making”.
What is “crazy making”?
The perpetrator can:
- Make the victim feel that there is no way out of the relationship.
- Move personal belongings or furniture and then deny this has been done (this is called “gas lighting” from the movie “gas light”);
- Deliberately twist realities;
- Blame the victim being abused for their behavior;
- Tell the person being abused that they have mental health problems or anxiety disorders;
- Deny that the abusive behavior occurred;
- Financial abuse (controlling the money, not giving the other person enough money to survive on, forcing that person to hand over their money, not letting the victim have a say in how it is spent).
- Cyber stalking. Cyber stalking can be through the internet or email to stalk another person. Cyber stalking is deliberate and persistent. The cyber stalker methodically finds and contacts the victim. The best response to cyber stalking is not to respond to the contact. Cyber stalking is in a grey area in legal terms. Enforcement of stalking laws requires that the victim be directly threatened with an act of violence.
- Spiritual abuse:
- Preventing the partner from practicing their religious or spiritual beliefs;
- Ridiculing the other persons religious or spiritual beliefs;
- Forcing the children to be reared in a faith that the partner has not agreed to.
- Legal abuse, such as exploiting the family law system to intimidate, exhaust, exploit or disempower someone;
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP?
- Do you feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
- Do you avoid certain topics or spend a lot of time figuring out how to approach that topic so as not to arouse your partner’s anger?
- Are you fearful of your partner a large percentage of the time?
- Do you sometimes wonder if you are the one who is crazy and that you are perhaps overreacting to your partner’s behaviours?
- Were you abused by a child, or did you grow up with domestic violence in the household?
- Does domestic violence seem normal to you?
WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ON CHILDREN?
Children who witness domestic violence may develop serious emotional, developmental, behavioural or academic problems. They may become violent themselves or withdraw. They may become depressed or have low self-esteem. As these children grow up witnessing domestic violence in their home they are more likely to:
- Use violence in the community or at school in response to perceived threats;
- Use drugs;
- Attempt suicide;
- Commit crimes; and
- Become abusers in their own relationships later in life.
People who use domestic violence in their relationships break the law.
Recently we attended a two day domestic violence workshop in Cairns. We are fully appraised of the important issues in domestic violence.