Recognize Abuse

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of domestic violence/abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship.

Here at The Hotline, we use the Power & Control Wheel* to describe most accurately what occurs in an abusive relationship.

Think of the wheel as a diagram of the tactics an abusive partner uses to keep their victim in the relationship. While the inside of the wheel is comprised of subtle, continual behaviors, the outer ring represents physical, visible violence. These are the abusive acts that are more overt and forceful, and often the intense acts that reinforce the regular use of other more subtle methods of abuse.

Copyright by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project

*Although this Power & Control Wheel uses she/her pronouns for the victim and assumes a male perpetrator, abuse can happen to people of any gender in any type of relationship.

Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive.

In fact, many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.

Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partner.

Some of the signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:

  • Tells you that you can never do anything right
  • Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away
  • Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members
  • Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs
  • Controls every penny spent in the household
  • Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses
  • Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you
  • Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do
  • Prevents you from making your own decisions
  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children
  • Prevents you from working or attending school
  • Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets
  • Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons
  • Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
  • Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol

Experiencing even one or two of these behaviors in a relationship is a red flag that abuse may be present. Remember, each type of abuse is serious, and no one deserves to experience abuse of any kind, for any reason. If you have concerns about what’s happening in your relationship, contact us. We’re here to listen and support you!

  • Physical Abuse You may be experiencing physical abuse if your partner has done or repeatedly does any of the following tactics of abuse:
    • Pulling your hair, punching, slapping, kicking, biting or choking you
    • Forbidding you from eating or sleeping
    • Hurting you with weapons
    • Preventing you from calling the police or seeking medical attention
    • Harming your children
    • Abandoning you in unfamiliar places
    • Driving recklessly or dangerously when you are in the car with them
    • Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol (especially if you’ve had a substance abuse problem in the past)

Why Do People Abuse?

Domestic violence and abuse stem from a desire to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abusive people believe they have the right to control and restrict their partners, and they may enjoy the feeling that exerting power gives them. They often believe that their own feelings and needs should be the priority in their relationships, so they use abusive tactics to dismantle equality and make their partners feel less valuable and deserving of respect in the relationship.

No matter why it happens, abuse is not okay and it’s never justified.

Abuse is a learned behavior. Sometimes people see it in their own families. Other times they learn it from friends or popular culture. However, abuse is a choice, and it’s not one that anyone has to make. Many people who experience or witness abuse growing up decide not to use those negative and hurtful ways of behaving in their own relationships. While outside forces such as drug or alcohol addiction can sometimes escalate abuse, it’s most important to recognize that these issues do not cause abuse.

Who Can Be in an Abusive Relationship?

Anyone can be abusive and anyone can be the victim of abuse. It happens regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race or economic background. If you are being abused by your partner, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. All of these emotions are normal responses to abuse. You might also blame yourself for what is happening. But, no matter what others might say, you are never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions. Being abusive is a choice. It’s a strategic behavior the abusive person uses to create their desired power dynamic. Regardless of the circumstances of the relationship or the pasts of either partner, no one ever deserves to be abused.

On Leaving Abuse

“Why Don’t They Just Leave?”

People who have never been abused often wonder why a person wouldn’t just leave an abusive relationship. They don’t understand that leaving can be more complicated than it seems.

Leaving is often the most dangerous time for a victim of abuse, because abuse is about power and control. When a victim leaves, they are taking control and threatening the abusive partner’s power, which could cause the abusive partner to retaliate in very destructive ways.

Aside from this danger, there are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships. Here are just a few of the common ones:

  • Fear: A person may be afraid of what will happen if they decide to leave the relationship.
  • Believing Abuse is Normal: A person may not know what a healthy relationship looks like, perhaps from growing up in an environment where abuse was common, and they may not recognize that their relationship is unhealthy.
  • Fear of Being Outed: If someone is in an LGBTQ relationship and has not yet come out to everyone, their partner may threaten to reveal this secret.
  • Embarrassment or Shame: It’s often difficult for someone to admit that they’ve been abused. They may feel they’ve done something wrong by becoming involved with an abusive partner. They may also worry that their friends and family will judge them.
  • Low Self-Esteem: When an abusive partner constantly puts someone down and blames them for the abuse, it can be easy for the victim to believe those statements and think that the abuse is their fault.
  • Love: So often, the victim feels love for their abusive partner. They may have children with them and want to maintain their family. Abusive people can often be charming, especially at the beginning of a relationship, and the victim may hope that their partner will go back to being that person. They may only want the violence to stop, not for the relationship to end entirely.
  • Cultural/Religious Reasons: Traditional gender roles supported by someone’s culture or religion may influence them to stay rather than end the relationship for fear of bringing shame upon their family.
  • Language Barriers/Immigration Status: If a person is undocumented, they may fear that reporting the abuse will affect their immigration status. Also, if their first language isn’t English, it can be difficult to express the depth of their situation to others.
  • Lack of Money/Resources: Financial abuse is common, and a victim may be financially dependent on their abusive partner. Without money, access to resources or even a place to go, it can seem impossible for them to leave the relationship. This feeling of helplessness can be especially strong if the person lives with their abusive partner.
  • Disability: When someone is physically dependent on their abusive partner, they can feel that their well-being is connected to the relationship. This dependency could heavily influence their decision to stay in an abusive relationship.

4 thoughts on “Recognize Abuse

  1. As i clean out my closet i will put clothing aside for donation to your organization. Do you.hsve a phone number and address?

    1. Thank you so much for your donatioms, Passionate Wings is located in West Jordan. Call me and I will give you the address. 801-244-7856 Martha Garcia

  2. Good Afternoon
    My daughter school Entheos Academy has a program were the 6th grade chooses a social issue to work with and volunteer time and services. We saw you on the news and we are trying to find ways to get involved and help. My daughter has chose the “Me TOO” movement and is in the process learning and getting educated on the issues. So we were wondering if you could use us to help in any way or if you knew of others that we could help. We are excited to get in and help families that are going through hardship. My name is Nichole Rilk and my daughter is Danika.

    1. Hi Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Yes I always need help in Passionate Wings. I’m located in West Jordan if she would ever want to help out. Thank you so much. 801-244-7856 Martha Garcia

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