October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month! Domestic Violence awareness month is important for all of us, even if we don't realize it. Our assumptions about what counts as violence may limit the way we detect violence in our own lives or in the lives of those around us.
If we picture physical injuries as the tell tale sign of abuse, we are not seeing all the other types of abuse that aren’t physical abuse. Different forms of abuse tend to overlap, such as the use of physical force in sexual abuse. Here are some quick definitions of different types of abuse:
- Physical Abuse: Includes any unwanted and intentional contact with you, such as grabbing your arm, forcing you to stay close, or pulling your hair, as well as using a weapon against you and explicit attacks on your person.
- Sexual Abuse: Similar to physical abuse, it includes unwanted physical contact but in a sexual situation. This includes but is not limited to rape, unwanted kissing or touching, or keeping someone from being safe in the form of refusing to use protection.
- Emotional/Verbal Abuse: Includes a wide range of non-physical acts like threats to use sexual or physical force, name-calling, excessive contact, and humiliation.
- Digital Abuse: The internet and mobile phones have created a new opportunity for communication but also for intense monitoring and sexting. Digital abusers use social media and other digital outlets to intimidate, insult and limit the mobility of their partner.
Video by one of our wonderful Social Media Health & Leadership Internship participants from this summer, Tierra Hammond, about emotional abuse. Notice how her abuser tries to make her feel stupid and less valuable than other people. Consider how it would be difficult to notice this abuse if she wasn't writing the words on her body.
If we can agree that there is a wide range of ways abusers are abusing people, then hopefully we can also agree that abusers abuse all sorts of people and all sorts of relationships can be unhealthy. We often think about men abusing women who are their partners. Though women are most often the victim and men are most often the perpetrator, this does not mean that gay and lesbian couples do not have their share of unhealthy relationships or that women cannot abuse their partners who might be men. Additionally, all forms of abuse are not limited to romantic relationships. Abusers may victimize their friends and family members using the same techniques as they would with a romantic partner. Abuse is a behavior pattern of the abuser, and is not directly related to the victim's behavior.
Read more on our next post "What We Can Do For Ourselves & Our Partners" coming to the blog on Thursday!
Author: Morgen Snowadzky, Ujima Intern
If things don’t feel right, something is probably not right. Loveisrespect.org offers free, confidential online chatting to talk to someone about concerns around dating violence.
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