Some people associate domestic violence with a black eye and bruises. The fact is, domestic violence takes many forms. Every relationship is different. But abuse will always be about one person maintaining power and control over another. That is the essence of domestic violence.
Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse
The first step in dealing with domestic abuse is to recognize the signs. They aren’t always clear, especially at the beginning of a relationship, when everything appears rosy and wonderful. Abuse doesn’t just happen one day. Usually, it grows slowly as the relationship intensifies.
Here are some of the signs for which to look:
- Being told you do everything wrong.
- Obsessive jealousy.
- Discouraging time spent with friends and family, which usually leads to isolation.
- Not allowing you to make any decisions in the relationship – the abuser needs to be in control.
- Demeaning behavior and comments, especially in public and in front of others.
- Taking away any control over finances. This can include taking your money and/or not providing enough funds for daily needs.
- Sex on demand, including sexual behavior that feels uncomfortable.
- Insisting you join him or her on alcohol or drug sprees.
- Being threatened when you don’t comply (obey) with the abuser’s demands.
- He or she actually uses a weapon.
- Having your family or pets threatened with harm.
- Destroying your property.
- Makes unwarranted accusations.
- Demands you ask for his or her “permission” before going anything, seeing anyone, or buying anything. You need to account for all of your time.
- You are too scared to speak honestly and criticize your partner.
- The abuser will blame you for anything that goes wrong – he or she is never in the wrong. Ever.
If you spend time worrying about displeasing your partner, that is a huge red flag. Also, notice if you await your partner’s arrival with unease and hope that “today will be a good day.”
Don’t hesitate to dial 911 if an abusive relationship threatens your physical safety.Discuss the situation with friends, family, and/or a counselor. If you are afraid to discuss the situation, that is a sign that you are afraid of your partner.
Who are Abusers
Abusers don’t wear identifying signs around their necks. As a matter of fact, they are rarely abusive outside of their primary relationship. They can be wealthy, attractive, churchgoing, or your neighbor. It is important to remember that anyone can be an abuser.
What to do in the Event of Extreme Abuse
Formulate an escape plan if you’re suffering from abuse.
- Have an extra set of car keys made.
- Have a bag with extra cash, clothes, and medication stowed away.
- Establish a “code” word with a friend or relative to signal when you’re in danger.
- Have a plan for someplace where you can take shelter. There are phone numbers you can call.
If You Suspect Someone Else Suffers from Abuse
Don’t ignore warning signs. Ask the other person in private if anything is wrong and listen to what he or she is saying and how he or she is saying it. Assure the other person you are there for them.
It may be difficult to believe that the person we love is abusing us. Between incidents of abuse, abusers can frequently ooze charm. That is the dangerous period when we try to convince ourselves that “things really aren’t that bad.”
The test of whether you are being abused can be very simple. Are you all too frequently nervous regarding your partner? Are you worried about displeasing him or her? If the answer is yes, you may be experiencing some form of domestic abuse. Fear has no place in any normal and loving relationship.
For more help:
National Hotline for Domestic Violence: 800-799-7233
For Miami-Dade, Florida Domestic Violence Victim & Related Services:
24 Hour Florida Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-500-1119; TTY: 1-800-621-4202
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233); TTY: 1-800-787-3224
Florida Department of Children & Families: 1-800-96-ABUSE (22873), www.dcf.state.fl.us
Victim Response Inc/The Lodge (305) 693-1170, thelodgemiami.org
North Dade Victim Center (Safespace Shelter North) (305) 758-2546
South Dade Victim Center (Safespace Shelter South) (305) 247-4249
Coordinated Victims Assistance Center (CVAC): 2400 S. Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL 33133; (305) 285-5900
Survivor’s Pathway: 1801 Coral Way, Miami, FL 33145; (786) 275-4364
Clerk of Courts (DV Division)
Lawson E. Thomas Court House Center (main / downtown courthouse): 175 NW 1st Avenue, Miami, FL 33128 (mezzanine / M floor): (305) 349-5813
Hialeah Courthouse: (305) 520-4002
South Dade Government Center: (305) 252-5807
North Dade Justice Center: (305) 354-8736
Joseph Caleb Center: (305) 636-2415
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