Sarah met John in school. Sarah was an undergrad and John was a PhD student. It was almost love at first sight. Sarah was thrilled to have met some one like John, handsome, smart and understanding. She was pretty, young and eager to be in a relationship. They had a lot in common, both were away from home, into academics, enjoyed poetry and liked going for walks. Even though John had more friends and was older Sarah felt he understood her and was comforted by his presence. Soon Sarah found herself moving in with John and almost undertaking the role of a spouse. Sarah was happy; she felt it was just the preparation for the future. But within months Sarah found John was dictating what classes she could take, who she could hang out with and even some of the professors that she could meet. Sarah thought John was just a very protective person who only had her best interest in mind. She complied and wanted to make him happy. It had been months that Sarah had gone home, her parents kept calling her, asking her to visit but she could not go because John told her that he would be lonely without her. Sarah started feeling anxious, her grades started slipping, she even stopped talking to her friends but John seemed unhappy, withdrawn and even angry. Sarah asked John what was bothering him and John told her that she should leave him alone and that she was not worth his time. Confused and hurt with no one to turn to Sarah started trying even harder to please John. The result was quite opposite. The more she tried, the worse it got. Sarah eventually had a break down and tried to commit suicide. At that point she was hospitalized where she later learnt that she was in an abusive relationship.
So what is intimate partner violence or domestic violence? Is it a kick, punch or a slap? Does it happen to folks like us? Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive control, a pattern of abusive behavior that is used by one partner to maintain control over the other. Any action, behavior and or threat that causes one to fear for his/ her life, be concerned about the safety and well being of their children, family, friends and even pets is domestic violence. It can take many forms like emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, social abuse and verbal abuse.
It cuts across all sections of society and any one can be a victim of domestic violence, regardless of their gender, economic, educational status and or sexual orientation.
In the United stated it is reported that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Men can be victim too. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline one in seven men have been victims of physical violence.
Early in the relationships often there are warning signs, which many do not notice or chose to ignore. In the beginning most people confuse control with protective care, jealousy as dependence, isolation with a partner being possessive. Thankfully most relationships are not abuse and there is mutual respect, care and sharing. However there are fine lines that are crossed, power are subtly and insidiously taken from one partner without him or her even noticing just like we saw in the case of Sarah. There are many reasons why individuals stay and or cannot extricate self from abusive relationships. Many unresolved issues from one’s family of origin, circumstances there were raised in and even the societal messages about relationships can contribute to their decision making.
Domestic Violence is an epidemic that slowly eats away at one’s self esteem, destroying their sense of self and integrity.
If you or anyone you know is living with a partner where s/he feels uncomfortable, fearful and or threatened to live life freely please call for help.
It does not hurt to get a relationship check up to see how you are doing as a couple from time to time. Even if you feel you have a great relationship there is always room for betterment. Call us, make an appointment and see how you too can improve your relationship and live life to its fullest.