By Richard A. Shulman, Ph.D.
Many people believe that domestic violence is male dominated and involves only verbal and physical abuse. In reality, verbal and physical abuse are only part of the problem. The elements of domestic violence can be much more in-depth and more subtle than most people realize.
Statistics reveal that domestic violence affects both men and women. It’s neither cultural, color, nor gender blind. According to a November 1998 Department of Justice report on the National Violence Against Women Survey, 1,510,455 women and 834,732 men per year are victims of physical violence by a spouse or loved one. Base on these statistics, in the United States an America woman is battered every 20.9 seconds and an American man is battered every 37.8 seconds. This also means that of those reporting physical violence, 62.5% of the victims were women, and 37.5% were men.
The data also reports that women are more likely to be beaten up, threatened with a gun, choked, have their hair pulled, be pushed, grabbed, shoved, or be victims of attempted drowning. Men are more likely to be threatened, have a knife used on them, hit with an object, bitten, kicked, scratched, or have something thrown at them.
8 Types of Domestic Violence/ Abuse:
- Physical Abuse – Physical abuse involves the victim being pushed, hit, shoved, or grabbed. This is what most people think about when discussing or reporting abuse. The abuser’s goal is to scare the victim into submissiveness.
- Intimidation Abuse – Intimidation abuse involves the victim receiving glares, throwing items towards or away from the victim, and/or grunting noise. The abuser’s goal is to keep the other person scared and make them feel powerless and afraid.
- Child Abuse – Child abuse involves using children as pawns, either by threatening to take the children, threatening to hurt the children, putting the children in the middle of the domestic feud, or fighting in the presence of a child. During this type of abuse the child is used for bargaining, control, or fear. The abuser’s goal is to break down the victim by using fear or threats towards the child.
- Verbal and Emotional Abuse – Verbal and emotional abuse involves name-calling, yelling, belittling, and social isolation/withdrawal. The abuser’s goal is to break down the victim’s self-esteem and make the victim feel badly about him or herself.
- Social Isolation Abuse–Social isolation abuse involves economic control, preventing social relationships, preventing family from visiting, monitoring phone calls, monitoring e-mail, and monitoring another person’s actions and behaviors. The abuser’s goal is to isolate and prevent the other person from developing or making personal/social relationships and keep the victim cut off from the outside world.
- Religious Abuse – Religious abuse involves quoting the Bible, Torah, or scriptures to prove a point, forcing religion onto another person, preventing the other person from going to church, or preventing the victim from keeping his or her religion. The abuser’s goal is to make the victim feel guilty and manipulate the victim to follow the abuser’s choices and actions.
- Male Privilege Abuse – Male privilege abuse involves diminishing the victim’s authority and preventing them from contributing to the relationship. “A man’s home is his castle”. This statement means that because he, the man, was born with a penis, he can do whatever, whenever, to who ever he wants. Since the abuser is the sole breadwinner he has the right to do as he pleases and the victim needs to stay passive and accept the abuser’s authority. The abuser’s goal is to create a hierarchy and his perception is entitlement.
- Sexual Abuse – Sexual abuse involves anything sexual. Rape, affairs, cheating, pornography, sexual exploitation, and withholding sex. The abuser’s goal is to punish their victim using intimacy and sex.
The common elements to all of these types of abuse centers around Power and Control. The abuser uses one or more types of abuse to manipulate and control the victim’s environment with the underlying goal to break down their victim’s self-esteem and self-confidence. This enables the abuser to mold the victim into the person the abuser wants the victim to be.
If you notice one or more of these types of abuse in your relationship, you might be a victim of abuse. Your immediate goal is to consider you and your children’s welfare and personal safety. Remember, it’s crucial not to be caught in the crossfire or fall victim to abuse.