Acknowledging Pain

Samantha Sperry, Editor-in-Chief

One of the reasons why domestic violence is so overlooked is because many people, including the individuals in the toxic relationship, do not realize the signs.
“It took me about a year and a half to realize how bad the relationship was,” senior Heather Cleaver said.
In any abusive relationship, the abuser thrives on power and control over the victim. This can come in many different forms and can be pursued in different ways.
Anyone can be a victim, and anyone can be an abuser. It does not matter the gender, if the couple is dating, or if the couple has children.
There are eight main forms of power and control that are typically used against the victim in a domestic violence situation.
“Controlling, possessive behavior is a red flag,” counselor James Larson said.
Emotional abuse is one of the most commonly overlooked forms of abuse. Victims can be emotionally abused through manipulation, humiliation, name calling, etc.
“Be cautious of big mood swings and angry responses for seemingly small issues,” Larson said.
Isolation can also be overlooked by both bystanders and the victim. Abusers may control where the victim goes, what the victim does, who the victim talks to, and the victim may brush off the abuse as jealousy.
“He became very jealous and accused me of cheating on him with another man,” victim Joan wrote to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH).
An abuser may also economically control their victim by preventing the victim from getting a job, taking money from the victim, preventing the victim from accessing family money, gaining access to the victims’ bank account, and canceling the victims credit cards. This prevents the victim from having money to provide for themselves, giving them no choice but to rely on the abuser.
“Each time I would find employment he would become unbearable,” victim Jane wrote to the NDVH.
In the case of a male abuser, they may use male privilege against a female victim. This can include making the woman do household chores and tasks as well as manipulating the female into believing she is not powerful.
Intimidation is common among violent relationships. The attacker will threaten the victim, destroy property, injure pets, and display weapons.
After establishing what the abuser considers to be dominance through intimidation, they may act on their threats and harm the victim. Bruises and frequent hospital visits are clear signs of domestic violence.
Once caught or approached about the situation, the abuser will find a way to twist the situation. They will minimize the situation, deny that they are the ones who caused the abuse, and blame the victim.
Any form of physical abuse is a sign of domestic violence and should be acted upon immediately. No threats from a significant other should be taken lightly.