Every 9 seconds worldwide, a woman is assaulted or beaten. In the United States, nearly 20 people per minute are assaulted or physically abused by a partner. That calculates to 288,800 women being assaulted a day just in the United States.
Physical abuse is the number one cause of domestic violence, but domestic violence can come in many different shapes and forms. Even though the signs may not be clear to you, a friend, or a family member who might be experiencing it, I am here to bring awareness of many signs of domestic abuse and how to get out of a toxic relationship.
Signs of Domestic Violence
This, in most cases, is the most basic form of domestic violence. Physical violence can include pushing, punching, strangling, slapping, choking, assaulting with a weapon or other object, and nonconsensual sex. According to NCADV, 1 in 4 women in the United States alone, have been physically violated by a partner.
Acting jealous may seem a little cute at first if you’re anything like me, but this can lead to many ultimatums from your partner. If your partner becomes so jealous he or she starts to keep you from hanging out with friends or family, this is a big red flag.
This form of emotional abuse can take a toll on you mentally and make you feel as if you are crazy or good enough. An abuser can make fun of the way you look, your intelligence, accomplishments, experiences and even your feelings.
This can range from picking out the clothes you’re allowed to wear, picking who you hang out with, and even choosing what places you go to, ultimately leaving you feeling as if you are a hostage to that person.
The National Domestic Violence Hotlines defines gaslighting as “an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power (and we know that abuse is about power and control).” An abuser can tell you “you’re imagining things”, “you’re being really sensitive”, and “I don’t know what you’re talking about”. Gaslighting gives your partner the upper hand in arguments, making you feel weak and in some instances, insane.
How to get out of an unhealthy relationship:
- Talk to someone about it as soon as possible: Tell someone about your situation. It can be a family member, friend, coworker or teacher. They might be able to help you get out of the situation. There are several hotline numbers (listed below) that answer the phone 24/7 especially if don’t have that kind of support system.
- Find a safe place to stay: Getting out of an abusive relationship is usually hard for the victim. Finding a safe place to stay is a crucial part if you don’t feel safe or comfortable in your own home. Friends, family members, and coworkers are good resources, but if you do not have access to those, there are many domestic violence relocators that will give you a place to stay.
- File a restraining order: If your situation ever becomes dangerous or violent, it is important to keep yourself safe. Filing a restraining order is a good way to make the situation known to the law.
- Break off all contact: This is one of the hardest parts for the victim, especially if they have had a long relationship. Block their number, block them on social media, and most importantly, make sure they can’t see your location. During this time, it’s important that you have no contact with this person.
- Talk to a counsellor/therapist: You will be going through a lot of feelings (guilt, regret, depression) at this point, and it’s important to talk to a professional. There are many free services especially on college campuses, and numbers listed below that are available to speak at almost any time of the day.
- Report the crime: One of the best things you can do for yourself is reporting physical violence as soon as it happens. Many domestic violence incidents don’t go reported because of fear of the abuser. There are numerous amounts of authorities and support systems that take matters like this very seriously.
If you think you or someone you know might be in an abusive relationship, you can call:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Crisis Call Center: 1-800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
Rape, Abuse & Incest Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
Your local campus police officers