Impact and Warning Signs of Domestic Violence
Saturday, Dec 11, 2010 10:37 am
• Abused women are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, psychosomatic systems, eating problems and sexual dysfunction. Violence may also affect their reproductive health. (WHO, 2000).
• Research has shown that the psychological damage is more long lasting than the injuries sustained (British Crime Survey, 2000)
source: Women’s aid

Warning Signs of Domestic Violence
Is Someone You Know Being Abused?
There is no way to tell for sure if someone is experiencing domestic violence. Those who are battered, and those who abuse, come in all genders, shapes, sizes, colors, economic classes, sexual orientations and personality types. Victims are not always passive with low self-esteem, and batterers are not always violent or hateful to their partner in front of others. Most people experiencing relationship violence do not tell others what goes on at home. So how do you tell? Look for the signs:

Injuries and Excuses:
In some cases, bruises and injuries may occur frequently and be in obvious places. When this happens, the intent of the batterer is to keep the victim isolated and trapped at home. When black eyes and other bruising is a result of domestic violence, the person being battered may be forced to call in sick to work, or face the embarrassment and excuses of how the injuries occurred. When there are frequent injuries seen by others, the victim may talk about being clumsy, or have elaborate stories of how the injuries occurred. In other cases, bruises and other outward injuries may be inflicted in places where the injuries won't show. This too is a tactic used by an abuser to keep a victim from reaching out or from having the violence exposed.

Absences from Work or School:
When severe beatings or other trauma related to violence occurs, the victim may take time off from their normal schedule. If you see this happening, or the person is frequently late, this could be a sign of something (such as relationship violence) occurring.

Low Self-Esteem:
Some victims have low self-esteem, while others have a great deal of confidence and esteem in other areas of their life (at work, as a parent, with hobbies, etc.) but not within their relationship. In terms of dealing with the relationship, a sense of powerlessness may exist. A victim may believe that they could not make it on their own or that they are somehow better off with the abuser as part of their life.

Personality Changes:
People may notice that a very outgoing person, for instance, becoming quiet and shy around their partner over time. This happens because the one being battered "walks on egg shells" when in the presence of the one who is abusive. Accusations (of flirting, talking too loudly, or telling the wrong story to someone) have taught the abused person that it is easier to act a certain way around the batterer than to experience additional accusations in the future.

Fear of Conflict:
As a result of being battered, some victims may generalize the experience of powerlessness with other relationships. Conflicts with co-workers, friends, relatives, and neighbors can create a lot of anxiety. For many, it is easier to give in to whatever someone else wants than to challenge it. Asserting needs and desires begins to feel like a battle, and not worth the risks of losing. Victims may also exhibit overly-friendly behavior, particularly to those that they perceive as being in a position of power ... like the abuser's inlaws, a boss or a supervisor at work, or even to advocates if a victim is seeking help from a domestic violence program. This can manifest as everything from sending cards to only very casual acquaintences to making dinner or providing over-indulgent attention.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior:
For adults or children who have experienced violence from a loved one, the ability to identify feelings and wants, and to express them, may not exist. This could result in passive-aggressive behavior. Rather than telling others what they want, they say one thing but then express anger or frustration in an aggressive manner (such as burning dinner, or not completing a report on time for their boss).

You may notice someone taking all of the blame for things that go wrong. A co-worker may share a story about something that happened at home and then take all of the blame for whatever occurred. If you notice this happening a lot, it may be a sign that this person is being experiencing emotional abuse. Keep in mind that in an emotionally abusive relationship, abusers often excel at constantly "reminding" the victim that THEY are to blame for whatever has been happening. Once internalized, this can poison one's ability to see through an abuser's lies.

Isolation and Control:
In general, adults who are abused physically are often isolated. Their partners tend to control their lives to a great extent as well as verbally degrade them. This isolation is intended to make the abuser the center of the victim's universe, as well as to purposefully limit the victim's access to others who might attempt to help the victim escape. You might notice that someone: has limited access to the telephone, frequently makes excuses as to why they can't see you or they insist that their partner has to come along, doesn't seem to be able to make decisions about spending money, isn't allowed to drive, go to school or get a job; or has a noteable change in self-esteem which might include inability to make eye contact or looking away or at the ground when talking.

Stress-Related Problems:
These often manifest as poor sleep, sleeping at strange times (also a sign of depression), experiencing non-specific aches or pains that are either constant and/or recurring, stomach problems, chronic headaches, and flare up of problems made worse by stress such as excema.