Warning Signs of Abuse

If you take a look at the women around you, one in every four of them will experience some sort of domestic violence in her lifetime. However, many people do not realize they are being abused. Domestic violence can take on many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and economic or financial abuse. Just because you are not battered and bruised does not mean that you are not being abused.

The most obvious sign of abuse is fear of one’s partner. The fear is often derived from physical and/or sexual abuse, involving punches, slaps, kicks, forced sex, or any other act of violence that may physically injure the victim. Even if the incidence is a minor violent act or if it only occurred once or twice, it is still abuse. Although the physical violence may stop if the victim goes into a passive mode, the abuse is still present, but has shifted from physical to psychological abuse.

Emotional abuse is often minimized and overlooked and may be hard to recognize. Yet, it is more common than people think and can be carried out in several different ways; verbal attacks, isolation from friends and family, intimidation to cause obedience, controlling behaviors, threats of physical violence, dominance, and humiliation are among the most common forms. The perpetrator may also deny and blame the victim for the abusive behavior.

An abuser’s goal is to control his or her victim, and many times he or she uses money to do so. Economic or financial abuse is a subtle form of emotional abuse. The abuser often attempts to restrict the victim’s income and expenses by stealing or withholding the victim’s money or credit cards, sabotaging the victim’s job, preventing him or her from working outside the home, or in any other way controlling the victim’s finances.

Domestic abuse is a cyclic behavior in which the abuser goes through different stages, all building up to the violent act. After the abusive incident has occurred, the relationship goes back to “normal”, just to start the cycle all over again. What many people do not know is that victims, who leave an abusive relationship, run a higher risk of being killed by their abuser, than victims who stay in the relationship. However, the dangers of staying in this kind of relationships without seeking help are very real. Ninety-nine percent of all the women who died as a result of domestic violence from 2005 to mid-2006 never stayed in a shelter, and 95 percent had no contact with a certified domestic violence center within five years of their murder.

If you witness any warning signs of abuse in your own relationship, or in a friend, family member, or co-worker, take them very seriously. People who are being abused may go along with everything their partner say or do; talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy, or possessiveness; have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents”; dress in covering clothes; rarely appear in public without their partner; and show signs of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts. These are only a few examples of the behaviors a domestic violence victim may suffer from.

Warning signs of abusive behavior

Physical Abuse

  • Slapping, hitting, choking, kicking, shoving, shaking, punching
  • Throwing objects
  • Threats of violence
  • Physical restraint
  • Spitting
  • Threatening to commit suicide

Sexual Abuse

  • Forcing sexual acts
  • Forcing overly aggressive or violent sexual acts
  • Coerced sex through manipulation or threat
  • Harassing e-mails or other communication containing sexual content
  • Forcing a partner to watch pornography or other sexual acts
  • Denying contraception or protection

Emotional Abuse

  • Name calling, insults, verbal attacks
  • Humiliation
  • Destroying keepsakes
  • Harming pets
  • Making the partner feel guilty for the abuse
  • Making her/him feel bad about themselves
  • Extreme jealousy
  • Playing mind games

Economic Abuse

  • Not allowing a partner to work
  • Financial isolation by limiting access to money
  • Controlling financial decisions without partner’s consent
  • Forcing partner to use money for the abuser’s needs while neglecting other family and victim’s needs

No one should live in fear of the one they love. If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, Hubbard House can help. Please call the Hubbard House domestic violence hotline at 1-800-500-1119 or 904-314-3114.

ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE

Hubbard House is a nationally recognized leader in domestic violence intervention. Founded in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 5,000 women, children and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic child care, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.

By Vicky Krook

Advertisements

National Older Americans Month

Since 1963, May is the month when we celebrate and support the older generations as they enter the next stage in life. Age Strong! Live Long! is the theme for the 2010 National Older Americans Month. Throughout the month, we recognize the diversity and vitality of today’s older Americans, and we are encouraged to honor the skills and accomplishments they have achieved over a lifetime.

The senior population currently spans over three generations and continues to grow as most people tend to live longer. Additionally, the population of persons 65 plus is expected to double in size within the next 20 years, reaching 71.5 million by 2030.

Today’s older generations have lived through wars and hard times, experienced the development of technology from its premature stages, and they have been the driving force behind a cultural revolution striving for an equal society. Many seniors are also becoming more active in their communities, making significant contributions through civic and volunteer actions.

These older generations are certainly worthy of our praise and admiration. Growing older, however, also has its downsides. Elder abuse is a growing problem and every year, an estimated 2.1 million senior Americans fall victims to abuse. Many victims suffer in silence and only one out of every 14 cases is reported to authorities. Social isolation and mental impairment often caused by dementia and Alzheimer’s are common risk factors, making seniors vulnerable to abuse.

Domestic, institutional, and self-neglect are the three most frequent types of abuse in later life. Elder abuse can take on several forms, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial or material exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. The vast majority of elder-abuse cases involve female victims, and about 70 percent of the assaults occur in the victim’s home.

Both men and women may become abusers. In about 90 percent of cases, the offender is a family member, usually financially dependent on the elderly and often having alcohol and/or drug problems. Although grown-up children may have a tendency to financially exploit their elder parents, spouses are the most common perpetrators of abuse in later life.

To prevent future elder abuse, it is crucial to educate seniors, professionals, caregivers, and the public about the issue. The most important thing is to be alert and keep a watchful eye out for loved ones, friends, and neighbors, who may be at risk. The National Older Americans Month is our opportunity to give back to the older generations and join them in providing services and support that empower the elderly and help them age strong and live long.

If you or someone you know is affected by abuse in later life, Hubbard House can help. Please call the Hubbard House domestic violence hotline at 1-800-500-1119 or 904-314-3114.

ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE

Hubbard House is a nationally recognized leader in domestic violence intervention. Founded in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 5,000 women, children and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic child care, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.

By Vicky Krook

National Teen Self-Esteem Month

May is the National Teen Self-Esteem Month established to create awareness about the negative effects poor self-esteem causes among the teen population. During this month, parents and guardians are encouraged to act as positive role models, help stop negative self-images, and improve confidence and security among adolescents.

Many adolescents and young adults in America struggle with negative self-images and low self-esteem, which may affect several aspects of their daily lives. Evidence shows that negative self-esteem hinders learning abilities and also increases the risk to develop eating disorders, drug abuse, and suicidal thoughts. A negative self-image is also often a characteristic among adolescents involved in teen dating violence. This behavior has been shown to be more common among high school students than previously thought.

Males with low self-esteem are more likely to become perpetrators of dating violence, while females with low self-esteem often become victims. Other risk factors include alcohol and drug use, depression, violent peers, learning difficulties, lack of parental supervision and support, and previous exposure to violence in the home or in the community.

One in five teens involved in a serious relationship report experiencing some form of physical abuse, and one in four teenage girls say they were pressured by their partner to engage in sexual activities against their will. Dating violence may also include verbal and emotional abuse, and more than a quarter of adolescent girls report continuous verbal abuse from their partner. As technology develops, controlling behavior through text messaging is also becoming an increasing issue in teen relationships. About 30 percent report being text messaged up to 30 times per hour from partners asking where they are, with whom, and what they are doing.

These types of violent and controlling behaviors may cause both long-term and short-term consequences among victims, including poor school performance, physical fighting, binge drinking, and suicide attempts. Victims also risk bringing patterns of violence into future relationships.

The Hubbard House Relationship Abuse Prevention program (RAP) is one of several programs established to prevent teen dating violence. RAP reaches out to middle and high schools in Duval County, offering students education about dating violence and providing techniques for healthy non-violent conflict solving. The goal of RAP is to motivate teens to change their attitudes and behaviors toward abuse and violence within relationships in order to prevent future dating violence.

To increase the effect of prevention strategies, however, it is important for teens, families, organizations, and communities to work together to stop teen dating violence. National Teen Self-Esteem Month is a great opportunity for everyone to get involved in helping develop a safer environment for teens.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House domestic violence hotline at 1-800-500-1119 or 904-314-3114.

ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE

Hubbard House is a nationally recognized leader in domestic violence intervention. Founded in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 5,000 women, children and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic child care, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.

By Vicky Krook