Updated: Dec 21, 2021
Many years of my life, I thought domestic violence was black and white. It was easy to spot. I knew I’d never be a victim, because I would never allow myself to be hit. I wouldn’t be like all those crazy women who got hit and stayed. Simple. Hard line.
If only things were really that simple.
I think many women can relate. We think our “hard line” in the sand need only be physical violence. Yet, ALL of the other things we tolerate PRECEDING physical violence matters so much more.
By the time physical violence happens, a web has already been spun, making something you thought was simple, incredibly complicated.
I didn’t know the glaring red flags preceding physical violence… and was therefore at their mercy.
The red flags I didn’t know kept me walking into volatile and risky relationships blindly. The red flags I didn’t know confounded and puzzled me, when I stared them in the face. The red flags I didn’t know seem so simple, it’s tragic they aren’t common knowledge.
Today, I know. And, I take responsibility for acting on that knowledge.
Today, I know many relationships ending in domestic violence and sometimes death have some common characteristics:
Accelerated relationship pace and early, pressured commitment.
Conflict is often resolved with intimidation, bullying, manipulation, and threats.
Threats and intimidation are used as a means of control. This includes threats to harm physically, to defame, to embarrass, to restrict freedom, to disclose secrets, to cut off support, to abandon, and to commit suicide.
Property is damaged in expressions of anger. Symbolic violence is used, such as torn photos, broken photos, or marked out faces in photos.
Violence was present in prior relationships.
Substances are abused.
Abuse of a substance is used as an excuse for hostile or cruel behavior. (“It was the booze talking…”)
There are prior incidents of stalking, threats, or violence and related legal consequences.
Money is used as a way to control the behavior or freedom of a partner.
There is jealousy when someone or something threatens to take time away from the partnership. All time is expected to be accounted for.
Rejections and “no”s are not accepted.
There is an assumption of “forever”. (“Together for life”, “always”, “no matter what”, “we’ll survive anything”.)
Hostility, cruelty, and violence is minimized and dismissed.
A disproportionate amount of time is spent talking about the partner and identifying as the spouse or lover.
Attempts are made to create alliances with friends and family in order to convince partner to stay.
Surveillance has been used to follow the partner.
There is suspicion others are out to get him and cannot be trusted.
There is a lack of compromise or flexibility.
Other violence is justified or sympathized with.
There are mood swings, anger issues, or depression present.<