Domestic abuse is a sensitive topic, and one that isn’t talked about that much due to this. It isn’t a topic you mindlessly bring up at the dinner table with your family or lightly bring up with your friends when you’re walking to class. In reality, you might not even bring it up at all, even if you’re experiencing it. When I saw that I had to interview someone on such a personal topic, I thought “man, who do I even ask?” Instead of asking someone such personal questions, I decided it be best to ask multiple people questions regarding domestic abuse.
My first question was simply, what is domestic abuse? I received a variety of answers, but they all had the same ideas.
Student 1: “Domestic means at home so any violence you’re experiencing at home like mental, physical, or emotional.”
Student 2: “Any relationship where you feel unhappy, attacked, and cannot escape.”
Student 3: “It’s violence within a relationship. It includes emotional abuse, physical abuse, damage to one’s mental health, etc.”
Student 4: “Domestic abuse is when someone messes with their partner emotionally, physically, and more. It can be done by men or women, even though men are more likely to be offenders. However, when women do it, it is less likely to be reported.”
My next question was what are the signs of domestic abuse? This can be from the victim perspective or bystander perspective.
Student 1: “When you’re the one experiencing it, you’re uncomfortable, scared to talk about it or trust others, nervous, and feeling like you need to compensate and make it seem like everything is okay when it’s not. An example of this could be overproviding for your kids since you weren’t provided for as a kid yourself.”
Student 2: “Physically, bruises, cuts, and malnutrition. Mentally, feeling like it’s your fault, feeling unlovable and isolated.”
Student 3: “Sometimes the signs are not very visible, especially in an emotionally abusive relationship. The victim may become more distant and isolated from friends, and they may struggle in their classes. However, physical violence may be noticed through bruises or injuries on the individual.”
Student 4: “The signs are really hard to determine, there are physical signs like bruising. Mental abuse is also hard to determine; the only way you can tell is if you talk to the person. It’s hard to know what’s going on with someone’s mental health because they might have other issues going on in addition to being mentally or emotionally abused.”
My next two questions were a little more thought provoking. The first was can domestic abuse go outside of romantic relationships, like parent to child or even friend to friend? Also, is it easy to tell if you are abusing someone, such as your friend?
Student 1: “Domestic violence can go outside of romantic relationships. It can be anyone that’s close to you in some way. It is easier to get away with it a long time ago but society is more sensitive now. Domestic abuse might be the parents’ way of dealing with their issues. If the perpetrator is close to you, they would feel some sort of guilt, they just might not be aware of the damage since mental abuse is harder to notice than physical abuse.”
Student 2: “Anyone, and if it’s from a friendship its more mental abuse. Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
Student 3: “I think domestic violence can definitely go outside of romantic relationships, and they definitely fall under the examples you provided. A parent can emotionally or physically abuse their child. Siblings can also be offenders and victims of domestic abuse, for example, an older sibling can abuse their younger sibling and take advantage of them. Friendship relationships can also be unhealthy emotionally and physically, it doesn’t matter if it’s between guys, girls, or both. Sometimes abuse can be intentional or unintentional. A person may purposely want to make their friend feel horrible. And in that case they are not a friend at all if they start doing stuff like that. For unintentional abuse, someone may not realize how they make someone else feel, because they think that they’re doing the right thing for their friend.”
Student 4: “I would say yeah. But I don’t really know how it would. I can see it being a thing, but I personally haven’t seen it happen myself. I’d say yes, if you actually care about a person, you should understand their feelings and how to not mess with them.”
My final question was what advice would you give someone who is being domestically abused? Everyone had the same advice and want victims of domestic abuse to know that you are not alone and that we are all here for you.
Student 1: “You’re not alone. There are so many people going through it. I can’t imagine how afraid you are to talk about it but don’t be afraid to be alone in your pain. Your feelings are valid and your story is worth hearing. I want you to feel valid again.”
Student 2: “Talk to someone, it’s not your fault. Get the help because there are better things out there.”
Student 3: “My advice for someone who is in domestic violence relationship is that it may feel like they are alone, but they truly aren’t. They should reach out to people they trust or a domestic violence center for help. It may seem scary to leave the relationship, but it is necessary for you to regain a healthy life and healthy relationships.”
Student 4: “Seek help immediately from a friend or a domestic abuse organization.”
Domestic abuse can be a very touchy, personal topic and a hard pill to swallow. This doesn’t mean we are allowed to just sweep it under the rug, turn a blind eye, or pretend it doesn’t exist. We need to shed light on the topic as it is a serious issue and one that needs to be addressed. If you or anyone you know is going through domestic abuse, please seek help. It doesn’t matter if it’s a family member, a friend, a peer, or even the kid in class who sits along the wall and doesn’t talk to anyone. Everyone deserves a voice, but some just need a little more help being heard than others. There is plenty of help out there, so please take advantage of all your resources.
La Salle Counseling Center: (215) 951-1355
La Salle Student Health Center: (215) 951-1565
La Salle Substance Abuse and Violence Education Center: (215) 951-1357
La Salle Public Safety: (215) 951-1300
Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline: (866) 723-3014
National Domestic Violence Hotline: (571) 535-4242