October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233). Deaf and hard of hearing users can access the TTY line at 1.800.787.3224. They can talk to callers in numerous languages.
Domestic violence – or intimate partner violence, as it’s sometimes called- usually conjures images of hitting and punching, bruised faces and shattered bones. At its most tragic, the victim of such abuse might even be killed. Domestic violence certainly includes all that, but the signs aren’t always so obvious.
Abuse can also take the form of control: one partner limiting the other regarding whom they can see or where they are allowed to go. It might involve emotional abuse: yelling, bullying, put-downs that belittle and shame. There might be pressure to have sex that stops short of outright force, but is still coercive. While the classic and most common pattern is male-on-female abuse, there are no absolutes regarding gender and domestic violence. Male or female, gay or straight, anyone can be at risk.
If you think you might be in an abusive relationship – even if it’s “only” emotional mistreatment- take a look at ASHA’s resources on Healthy Relationships where you’ll find this checklist:
In any intimate relationship, ask yourself:
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, get help. One of the most painful aspects of domestic violence is the all too common thought “I must have done something to deserve this.” Believe me, it’s not your fault. You’re not the problem; the abuser is. Call the number above, or call 911 if you need immediate help.
You are so worth it.
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