Abuse Has Many Faces

“Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. And I will choose how the story ends.”

— Brene Brown

“Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. And I will choose how the story ends.”

— Brene Brown

October is domestic violence awareness month. It can be difficult to talk about domestic abuse and unhealthy relationships but it is important to recognize the signs and know the resources available. While we often think of domestic abusers as someone we are in an intimate relationship with, know that it can be a parent, friend, coworker, or someone else close to you. 

 Warning Signs from Break the Cycle

Often before a major incident occurs there are many warning signs and red flags. In a silo they may appear to be small incidents, however, as they build upon each other they begin to change the relationship and the behavior of those in the relationship. 

Abusers may show signs of:

  • Jealousy or lack of trust
  • Insecurity by putting the victim down to elevate themselves
  • Control of how the victim spends their time, who they spend it with
  • Pressure to do things victims don’t want to do, sexually or otherwise

Women Against Abuse has created a great resource on the types of abuse. When we think of domestic abuse we may only think of the physical signs, but an abuser can affect all areas of life, making it difficult for the victim to break the cycle and remove themselves from the situation.

Types of abuse can be categorized as:

  • Physical
    • Physical abuse can also encompass sexual abuse
    • An abuser will often inflict abuse on areas of the body that may not normally be visible such as: on the core or upper limbs
  • Emotional
    • An abuser will often create an environment of instability
      • This is often demonstrated by the victim being overly concerned as to the reaction of the abuser based on their actions
      • The victim may be overly, and unnecessarily apologetic
      • Even though the situation may seem dangerous the abuser has created an emotional tie that the victim may feel they cannot leave
  • Sexual
    • Sexual abuse is being forced into any type of physical contact or act that the victim does not want to do
  • Technological
    • An abuser may be controlling of who the victim communicates with 
      • This may go as far as installing software/hardware so that they can be watchful on devices at all times
  • Financial
    • An abuser may be in control of all assets
    • An abuser may use the victim’s identity to ruin credit and/or create debt
    • An abuser may control what job a victim has, if any
    • Lack of financial resources makes it much more difficult to leave

The National Resource on Domestic Violence has created a resource for some of the emotional signs that may be more subtle warning signs of domestic abuse.

Including, but not limited to:

  • Low self-confidence
  • Agitation/anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Pulling away from friends family

The Hotline has tips on creating safe exit plan during a variety of situations. While outside spectators may ask: “Why don’t they just leave?” There can be many variables that make it difficult for a victim to escape. Check out the link for ideas on developing an exit strategy in the following situations:

  • While living with an  Abuser
  • With Children
  • With Pets
  • During Pregnancy

The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence has many safety tips as well as resources such as the following 24/7 hotlines:

  • National Teen Dating Hotline 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 77054
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800799-7233

You are not alone. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline “More than 1 in 3 women in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.” This kind of experience is not the victim’s fault. Sharing the story of the experience will help to begin emotional healing and create a community of support.

Locally here in Nashville and nationally, The YWCA supports and empowers women through a variety of services including their many domestic abuse services, such as:

  • Therapy/Counseling
  • Job/Career Counseling
  • Financial Literacy Education
  • Community Support
  • Transitional Housing
  • Crisis and Support Hotline

Both Leah and I have been involved with the YWCA and support their mission to empower women in our community. Without organizations like theirs, we would have a gap in the necessary public services women need. We hope that you will support organizations like the YWCA in your community that provides services for women in a situation we hope no one ever has to experience.