RED FLAGS AND WARNING SIGNS

Red flags and warning signs of an abuser include but are not limited to:

  • Extreme jealousy
  • Possessiveness
  • Unpredictability
  • A bad temper
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Verbal abuse
  • Extremely controlling behavior
  • Antiquated beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships
  • Forced sex or disregard of their partner’s unwillingness to have sex
  • Sabotage of birth control methods or refusal to honor agreed upon methods
  • Blaming the victim for anything bad that happens
  • Sabotage or obstruction of the victim’s ability to work or attend school
  • Their control of all finances
  • Abuse of other family members, children, or pets
  • Accusations of the victim flirting with others or having an affair
  • Control of what the victim wears and how they act
  • Demeaning the victim either privately or publicly
  • Embarrassment or humiliation of the victim in front of others
  • Harassment of the victim at work


UNDERSTANDING WHY VICTIMS STAY


When it is a viable option, it is best for victims to do what they can to escape their abusers. However, this is not the case in all situations. Abusers repeatedly go to extremes to prevent the victim from leaving. In fact, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence. One study found in interviews with men who have killed their wives that either threats of separation by their partner or actual separations were most often the precipitating events that lead to the murder

A victim’s reasons for staying with their abusers are extremely complex and, in most cases, are based on the reality that their abuser will follow through with the threats they have used to keep them trapped: the abuser will hurt or kill them, they will hurt or kill the kids, they will win custody of the children, they will harm or kill pets or others, they will ruin their victim financially—the list goes on. The victim in violent relationships knows their abuser best and fully knows the extent to which they will go to make sure they have and can maintain control over the victim. The victim literally may not be able to safely escape or protect those they love. A recent study of intimate partner homicides found that 20% of homicide victims were not the domestic violence victims themselves, but family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders.

SOME ADDITIONAL BARRIERS TO ESCAPING A VIOLENT RELATIONSHIP INCLUDE :


  • The fear that the abuser’s actions will become more violent, and may become lethal if the victim attempts to leave
  • Unsupportive friends and family
  • Knowledge of the difficulties of single parenting and reduced financial circumstances
  • The victim feeling that the relationship is a mix of good times, love, and hope along with the manipulation, intimidation and fear
  • The victim’s lack of knowledge of or access to safety and support
  • Fear of losing custody of any children if they leave or divorce their abuser or fear that the abuser will hurt, or even kill, their children
  • Lack of the means to support themselves and/or their children financially or lack of access to cash, bank accounts, or assets
  • Lack of having somewhere to go (i.e., no friends or family to help, no money for hotel, shelter programs are full or limited by length of stay)
  • Fear that homelessness may be their only option if they leave
  • Religious or cultural beliefs and practices may not support divorce or may dictate outdated gender roles and keep the victim trapped in the relationship
  • Belief that two parent households are better for children, despite abuse


SOCIETAL BARRIERS TO ESCAPING A VIOLENT RELATIONSHIP


In addition to individual obstacles victims face when escaping violent relationships, society in general presents barriers. These include:

A victim’s fear of being charged with desertion, losing custody of children, or joint assets.
Anxiety about a decline in living standards for themselves and their children.
Reinforcement of clergy and secular counselors of “saving” a couple’s relationship at all costs, rather than the goal of stopping the violence.
Lack of support to victims by police officers and law enforcement who may treat violence as a “domestic dispute,” instead of a crime where one person is physically attacking another person. Often, victims of abuse are arrested and charged by law enforcement even if they are only defending themselves against the batterer.
Dissuasion by police of the victim filing charges. Some dismiss or downplay the abuse, side with the abuser, or do not take the victim’s account of the abuse seriously.
Reluctance by prosecutors to prosecute cases. Some may convince the abuser to plead to a lesser charge, thus further endangering victims. Additionally, judges rarely impose the maximum sentence upon convicted abusers. Probation or a fine is much more common.
Despite the issuing of a restraining order, there is little to prevent a released abuser from returning and repeating abuse.
Despite greater public awareness and the increased availability of housing for victims fleeing violent partners, there are not enough shelters to keep victims safe.
Some religious and cultural practices that stress that divorce is forbidden.
The socialization of some made to believe they are responsible for making their relationship work. Failure to maintain the relationship equals failure as a person.
Isolation from friends and families, either by the jealous and possessive abuser, or because they feel “ashamed” of the abuse and try to hide signs of it from the outside world. The isolation contributes to a sense that there is nowhere to turn.
The rationalization of the victim that their abuser’s behavior is caused by stress, alcohol, problems at work, unemployment, or other factors.
Societal factors that teach women to believe their identities and feelings of self-worth are contingent upon getting and keeping a man.
Inconsistency of abuse. During non-violent phases, the abuser may fulfill the victim’s dream of romantic love. The victim may also rationalize that the abuser is basically good until something bad happens and they have to “let off steam.”

INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE NATIONAL COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (NCADV)
www.ncadv.org

NCADV’s Main Office
One Broadway, Suite B210
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: (303) 839-1852
Fax: (303) 831-9251
Email: mainoffice@ncadv.org

For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call
THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE
1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
1.800.787.3224 (TTY)


SIGNS OF AN ABUSIVE PARTNER


The following signs often occur before manifestation of full abuse and may serve as clues to one person in a relationship becoming abusive of the other. Think about the following questions and apply them to your partner. If you can identify with one or more of these scenarios or answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you may be with an abusive partner.

  • Did your partner grow up in a violent family? People who grow up in families where they have been abused as children, or where one parent beats the other, have grown up learning that violence is normal behavior.
  • Does your partner tend to use force or violence to “solve” their problems?
  • Does your partner have a quick temper? Do they over-react to little problems and frustration? Are they cruel to animals? Do they punch walls or throw things when they are upset? Any of these behaviors may be a sign of a person who will work out bad feelings with violence.
  • Do they abuse alcohol or other drugs? Substance abuse does not cause domestic violence, but it can make it worse. There is a strong link between violence and problems with drugs and alcohol. Be alert to his possible drinking/drug problems, particularly if your partner refuses to admit that they have a problem, or refuses to get help. Do not think that you can change them.
  • Do they have strong traditional ideas about “roles” in relationships? For example, do they think all women should stay at home, take care of their husbands, and follow their wishes and orders?
  • Are they jealous of your other relationships—anyone you may know? Do they keep tabs on you? Do they want to know where you are at all times? Do they want you with them all of the time?
  • Do they have access to guns knives or other lethal weapons? Do they talk of using them against people, or threaten to use them to get even?
  • Do they expect you to follow their orders or advice? Do they become angry if you do not fulfill their wishes or if you cannot anticipate what they want?
  • Do they go through extreme highs and lows almost as though they are two different people? Are they extremely kind one time, and extremely cruel another?
  • When your partner gets angry, do you fear them? Do you find that not making them angry has become a major part of your life? Do you do what they want you to do, rather than what you want to do?
  • Do they treat you roughly? Do they physically force you to do what you do not want to do?
  • Do they threaten or abuse your pets? There is a strong link between the abuse of animals and perpetrators of domestic violence. In a recent study of victims of domestic violence, 71% reported that their partners killed, harmed, or threatened animals as a means of demonstrating their authority over the victim.
  • Threats and physical abuse are prevalent in relationship violence, often occurring in an escalating cycle.


INFORMATION PROVIDED BY THE NATIONAL COALITION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (NCADV)
www.ncadv.org

NCADV’s Main Office
One Broadway, Suite B210
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: (303) 839-1852
Fax: (303) 831-9251
Email: mainoffice@ncadv.org

For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call
THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE
1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
1.800.787.3224 (TTY)



DO YOU THINK YOU ARE BEING ABUSED ?


Look over the following questions. Think about how you are being treated and how you treat your partner. Remember, when one person scares, hurts, or continually puts down the other person, it is abuse.

Does your partner

Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family? Put down your accomplishments or goals?
Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
Tell you that you are nothing without them?
Treat you roughly-grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you? Threaten or abuse your pets?
Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
Blame you for how they feel or act?
Pressure you sexually for things you aren’t ready for?
Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship?
Prevent you from doing things you want-like spending time with your friends or family?
Try to keep you from leaving after a fight, or leave you somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson?”


Do You…

  • Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
  • Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
  • Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
  • Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
  • Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you?
  • Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
  • Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?


If any of these situations are happening in your relationship, talk to someone you trust or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (available 24/7/365): 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

WITHOUT HELP, THE ABUSE WILL CONTINUE!



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