We all desire to be loved. We all desire to be in a true loving and caring relationship. But there is an ugly side to love.
Here are some statistics. In the U.S. over 40% of all women who have been murdered, the killer has been their partner. Every fourth woman who is being admitted to the emergency room, is being treated for physical abuse by her partner.
Abuse is happening in all cross sections of society, throughout all ethnicities, skin colours, religions and economic classes. Abuse comes in different forms and shapes from physical, emotional and financial abuse. Financial and emotional abuse are still not classified as a crime. There are very little support groups and organizations who provide support. Shelters are always packed and too few attorneys offer free legal presentation. Abused women are often scared to come forward because of their immigration status, or simply because they are financially dependent on their abusive partner.
Well, you may scratch your head and ask yourself, why is it important to talk about this subject. It is important to raise awareness about domestic violence because there is not enough help out there for women in such situations, there are too little resources by the government, and too much of the blame shifted on the victims.
People always say things like, why does she not go to the police, or run away, or tell her family. Those people fail to understand the complexity of domestic violence. When the husband or boyfriend strikes the woman, and she runs to the phone to call the police, what usually happens? The guy snatches the phone out of her hand, sometimes even breaks it, or keeps it from her so she can't make any contact with the outside world. Many times men threaten their victims, telling her, that he will kill her and get away with it, if she ever talks.
Abusive partners systematically isolate their victims. They may not contact their family, be allowed to drive or go out with other friends. But abusiveness does not only include physical harm and isolation. Abusive partners usually the household finances. They make the decisions in the house. The checking accounts are in their names, the rental leases or mortgages are in their names and often even if the abused partner is working, she cannot freely determine how her pay check is being spent.
The law only rules on domestic violence when there is physical abuse. Emotional abuse, like calling names, belittling, embarrassing and threatening is not classified by the law as a crime. Financial abuse is mostly completely ignored by the law and society, due to the fact that it seems perfectly normal, even in 2012 for a man to be the head of household and in charge of all the finances.
Again, I am not claiming that every man who is in charge of the household's finances is an abuser. Absolutely not! But abuse starts where the woman has no say in anything financially, and can't access the finances herself. If the woman has to ask every time for funds to buy groceries, instead of just being able to access the funds, then there is something not quite right in the relationship. In a partnership everything should be balanced, e.g. equal rights for both people involved. If that is not the case in your relationship, it might be time to re-evaluate your partnership.
What are the signs of being in an abusive relationship?
- You are scared of your partner. If you can actually admit to yourself that you are scared of your partner you are in an abusive relationship.
- You always have to tip toe around your partner, and watch what you say or do.
- Your partner isolates you from your family and social circle. He manipulates you into thinking that he is the only person in the world who cares about you.
- When he gets abusive, he makes you feel guilty. He strikes out and puts the blame on you for it. He tells you things like: "If you weren't such a worthless woman, I wouldn't have to beat you up." That's a classic one actually.
- He controls your emails and your text messages. There is a fine line between jealous behaviour and abusiveness. For a woman or man to constantly spy on their partner's conversations is a sign of abuse.
- He doesn’t let you to talk to men, he tells you what you can and can't wear, he checks your make up every day, to make sure you don’t overdo it.
- He constantly accuses you of cheating, even when you just came from grocery shopping and you walk in 5 minutes late, he will accuse you of sleeping with the cashier.
- He threatens to take the children away from you, to take custody of your child/ren away from you.
- He threatens to cut you off from financial resources that you depend on such as mortgage payments, health insurance etc.
- He threatens to take cancel your visa, or to contact the immigration authorities to harm your immigration status.
There are many more indicating factors of domestic violence or abuse by your partner/spouse.
What should you do if you happen to be in that situation?
When you find yourself in such a situation you need to start making a very careful escape plan. You should never tell your partner about your plan and you should limit the number of people of who you are going to involve in your escape plan, to a minimum. The more people know what you are planning to do, the likelier information will leak back to the abuser.
The first thing you should do is gather all your important documents, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, court custody orders, passports, insurance policies etc. Then you should save up some funds. If you can't save up any funds do still do the first step and go ahead to the third step. When he leaves the house, contact your local domestic violence shelter and follow their instructions. If you need help to get out the house and don't have own transportation contact the police and ask them to drive you to the shelter.
There are domestic abuse help lines that can give you numbers to all shelters and free legal information and government aids.