For many victims, talking about domestic violence is hard. It is said that women are much more likely to be victims of intimate partner violence with 85 percent of domestic abuse victims being women and 15 percent men. Too many women have been subjected to domestic violence.
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone; this is often excused, or denied. Acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should ever live in fear of the person they love.
There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most obvious sign is being afraid of your partner. If you feel like you have to tiptoe around them and always be careful of what you say and do in order to avoid an eruption, it is likely that your relationship is unhealthy and abusive.
Other signs include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.
There are five general categories of abuse:
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
- Financial Abuse
- Social Abuse
Physical abuse can be defined as the threat of harm or any forceful physical behavior that intentionally or accidentally causes bodily harm or property destruction. Some examples are:
- Punching , slapping , kicking , pulling hair , shoving , burning , biting , choking
- Throwing objects or being threatened with objects (e.g. hammer, knife, gun, etc.)
- Refusal to get the partner help or medical attention, this includes depriving the partner of medication.
- Forced use of substances (e.g. alcohol and drugs)
- Smashing, damaging, stealing or selling the partner’s possessions
Physical abuse can also be extended to the partner’s family, children and pets.
This is self-explanatory, but sexual abuse is any forced sexual act or behavior in order to dominate the partner. It is not only forced sexual contact but also that which demeans or humiliates the partner and brings on feelings of shame or vulnerability – particularly in regards to the body, sexual performance or sexuality.
Some Examples are:
- Demeaning remarks about the partner’s body or appearance ( e.g. you are fat e.t.c )
- Withholding sex as a form of punishment
- Sex that is not consensual (rape)
- Purposefully and repeatedly crossing the partner’s sexual boundaries
- Unwanted sadistic sexual acts
Emotional Abuse :
Emotional abuse is present in almost all relationships where physical abuse occurs, and it can have serious and long-term consequences for the partner – eroding self-esteem and confidence, as well as instilling feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Emotional abuse can be identified in the following ways:
- Name-calling and use of abusive language and constant criticism or humiliation
- Anger or yelling to intimidate
- Obsessive jealousy and accusations of unfaithfulness
- The abuser harming or threatening to harm himself/herself
- Denying that statements or promises were made or that behaviors occurred.
Financial abuse is the use or misuse of the financial or any other monetary resource of the partner, without the partner’s freely given consent.
Common examples of financial abuse include:
- Not letting the partner go to work
- Jeopardizing the partner’s employment by excessive calls to the partner’s work; creating conflict with co-workers, supervisor or clients; creating scenes with co-workers; forcing the partner to miss work through threats, injuries or forced substance use
- Controlling shared resources, including bank accounts and common property
- Demanding the partner account for all the money he spends
- Refusing to work, yet contributing to expenses leavingthe partner to pay for all expenses, including rent, food and utilities.
Social abuse is one of the most nebulous forms of abuse. It is difficult to define and may be easily excused until each instance of abuse is considered, not in isolation, but on the whole.
You might be in a socially abusive relationship if your partner:
- Gossips or spread rumors about you
- Monitors your social activities
- Refuses to socialize with your family or friends and
- Demands that you account for all your time with social contacts
- Controls who you can visit and when for example family and friends. In the rare occasion they allow you to have friends they treats you disrespectfully in front of others.
- Demands you move away from friends and a supportive environment
If you recognize yourself or someone you know with warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out. There is help available in Kampala at The Center for Domestic Violence in Uganda.