Domestic violence occurs in every culture, country, and age group. It affects people from all socioeconomic, educational, and religious backgrounds and happens in both same-sex and heterosexual relationships. Children are also affected by domestic violence, even if they are not abused or do not witness it directly.
“Because every relationship is unique, domestic violence can take many forms. The types of abuse may range from verbal attacks and controlling behaviors, to physical and sexual assaults. It is important to remember that everyone deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship, free from violence and fear. It may be hard to recognize the early warning signs of abuse, and often the early incidents of abuse are minimized. Usually domestic violence is not a one-time incident and many find that the abuse occurs in a repeating cycle of violence. Each act of abuse may be followed by an apology, or the abusive partner may blame others for the abuse. As the relationship continues, the abuse may get worse and occur more frequently. Break the cycle.
Every home is different, and so is every family. Disagreements occur in all families. However, violence or the threat of violence is not a disagreement. It is abusive behavior and it’s against the law. This is not an isolated problem.
The effects on young people of witnessing or overhearing violence are similar to the effects on young people who have been abused. In families where there is domestic abuse, both mothers and fathers generally underestimate how much teenagers see and hear.
“Me and my sister are scared,” says one nine-year-old girl who lives in a violent home in the United Kingdom. “Our parents fight a lot and we fear they might split up. They fight when we're upstairs. They don't think we know what's going on, but we do.”(unicef.org) “My oldest sister was 15, the other one that followed was 14 and I was 7, I also had a 2 year old little brother at the time. My "Father" had been abusing my two sisters all their life. He started raping them when they each turned 13. My sisters showed and told my mother what was going on ... they would show her their bloody privates but she never cared - or I guess her marriage to a sick man was more important than the well being of her daughters.( Tiffany) "You'd never pick him out as an abuser, he was small built and never got into fights and everyone who met him thought he was a sweet guy. When I was thrown out of home and had to live with him he very suddenly started to get rough. It was minor stuff like shoving me, being all up in my face, not serious stuff but looking back it started then. When I was pregnant he suddenly became very violent: what had been pulling my hair got to be him kicking me in the stomach. The day after I'd had the abortion was the first time he raped me. One morning he “accidentally” shoved me in the stomach so hard he pushed me out of bed and I screamed in agony. In the space of a short few weeks this was my life and I was dead inside. It really was that fast, the violence came like flicking a switch and I was instantly shattered by the horrific abuse."( Emma ) Behavioural signs Social behavior
Domestic violence is abuse by a caregiver, a parent, a spouse or an intimate partner .
“Domestic violence can affect anyone of any age or gender. Whether it's physical or psychological, domestic abuse is destructive for both the battered and the batterer”.( http://www.psychologytoday.com)
Psychological abuse involves isolation from others, excessive jealousy,control of his or her activities, verbal aggression, intimidation through destruction of property, harassment or stalking, threats of violence and constant belittling and humiliation.
Abusers will often repeat a pattern, in the beginning they will pretend to be very attentive and understanding. Often giving you a sense of security and making one feel as though they are loved and appreciated, but this is a decoy. Many abuser's use this tactic to seduce their partner, and when the partner falls from grace, which inevitably will happen that is when the abuse begins. Talking to abusers they don't often think of themselves as abusers, but more like victims of a person who is mistreating them so they had to abuse them in order to defend themselves. Most abusers have had or are still having trouble coping with past traumatic events and usually think that their behavior is normal, and often try to convince their victim that their behavior is normal.
The verbal abuse stage is intended to break down a person's self-esteem and control them mentally, making many victims feel that they don't deserve better and this is the best their ever going to get. It is also used to create fear in his victim so that the victim is scared to leave the abuser.
Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or other type of physical force. Many victims suffer physical injuries. Some are minor like cuts, scratches, bruises, and welts. Others are more serious and can cause death or disabilities. These include broken bones, internal bleeding, and head trauma.
Children exposed to domestic violence are at risk for developmental problems, psychiatric disorders, school difficulties, aggressive behavior, and low self-esteem. These factors can make it difficult for survivors to mobilize resources.
The best thing to do when in a domestic violence situation or you know someone is in a domestic violence situation is to help.
“Then the hitting and kicking and verbal abuse! Making me eat out of a bin, shoving my face in ash trays, dragging me down the stairs by my hair! I used to think it was me, I 'd been bad somehow, that I was being punished for something?! Him knocking me out with a car battery! Being chased round the streets with a sword, having a knife held to my throat, fearing for my life, and my little boy's.
You ask why didn't you leave? Well, I was petrified of him, I knew what he was capable off. So I took it to keep him sweet.This went on for 18 months and the abuse was daily! But one day something clicked and I was 'WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!!??' So I told him it was over! He went completely mental!! Left me a message on my mums answer phone telling me, he was going to rape me and my mum and make my little boy watch, and then kill us and cut our bodies up and set us on fire!! But I didn't give in. I stood strong. Then he got me, he kept me in house, but I got out of his room, he then broke my nose and my collar bone.”( Selena)
How does domestic abuse affect teenagers
The teenage years are a time of dramatic changes. Physical growth and sexual maturity are the most obvious. But there are also huge changes in a teenager’s emotional and social development and their reasoning and understanding of things. Mood swings are a common sign of puberty and young people experience a growing need for independence and self-determination. It is a time when young people renegotiate their identity and family relationships. Negotiating these changes is a normal part of a teenager’s journey towards independent adulthood and can be challenging. Strong family relationships and the support and understanding of parents provide a secure foundation from which teenagers can make these changes. When teenagers witness one parent harming another, their bonds of trust and security are broken and they grow up with an unhealthy idea of how adult relationships work. Each individual’s experience and reaction is unique and some teenagers are affected more than others. If violence and abuse have been a part of their lives from early childhood, the effects can build up and increase over time.
Teenagers may have experienced a lot of disruption – having to leave their home or having the abuser leave and return, possibly many times. They may have been living with on-going fear, anxiety for many years.
Teenagers may find it more difficult to develop trusting or healthy intimate relationships. In some cases, they may see violence or abuse as a normal part of relationship conflict, either as abusers or victims. On the other hand, as teenagers grow physically larger and stronger,they are better able to defend themselves, and may be able to intervene or confront the abuser. Teenagers can feel more in control than younger children do and may be able to act in ways that help them to cope and overcome the effects of abuse. Teenagers may have more resources than younger children do. They may be better able to physically or mentally remove or screen themselves from the impact of violence. They can take a more objective view of the situation.
Some young people may find it easier to talk about their feelings than others. This often depends on how open a relationship they already have with their parents. They may try to hide their reactions because they feel afraid, ashamed or that they are to blame, or ecause their feelings are so powerful that they feel overwhelmed.
Teenagers may be torn between feeling love for both parents and anger at their behaviour. Some teenagers may be more able to talk about how they feel, but only when they feel safe to do so and often they need to be supported and encouraged to open up. Adults need to be prepared to accept their ways of expressing themselves. Young people who have experienced domestic or other childhood abuse are known to be more likely to misuse alcohol or drugs.They may use alcohol or drugs to block or to help them to cope with strong emotions.Young people may leave home at an early age to escape domestic abuse and are at greater risk of homelessness. Alternatively, within the home, they may try to take on a protective role. They may try to intervene when abuse occurs or challenge the abuser in order to protect their other parent and to develop a greater sense of control and feel less helpless. While this can be a natural or instinct reaction, it can place the young person at risk of being abused or assaulted themselves.
Never be to proud or embarrassed to ask for help, there are many people that share the same situation and feel comfort in knowing that their is someone that can relate to their situation. Speak out, talk to young teens and get involved with helping to end domestic violence. Domestic violence should not happen to anybody.Ever.Period.But it does and it is a serious problem.
•Feeling guilty or that it is their fault
•Anger towards abuser, other parent or siblings
•Fear, tension, stress
•Acting out anger, aggression
•Being protective, trying to stop the violence – putting themselves at risk
•Trying to protect siblings
•Running away from home
•‘mitching’ from school
•Difficulty trusting others
•Poor social skills
•Aggression towards others
•Violence in dating or intimate relationships
“My oldest sister was 15, the other one that followed was 14 and I was 7, I also had a 2 year old little brother at the time. My "Father" had been abusing my two sisters all their life. He started raping them when they each turned 13. My sisters showed and told my mother what was going on ... they would show her their bloody privates but she never cared - or I guess her marriage to a sick man was more important than the well being of her daughters.( Tiffany)
"You'd never pick him out as an abuser, he was small built and never got into fights and everyone who met him thought he was a sweet guy. When I was thrown out of home and had to live with him he very suddenly started to get rough. It was minor stuff like shoving me, being all up in my face, not serious stuff but looking back it started then. When I was pregnant he suddenly became very violent: what had been pulling my hair got to be him kicking me in the stomach. The day after I'd had the abortion was the first time he raped me. One morning he “accidentally” shoved me in the stomach so hard he pushed me out of bed and I screamed in agony. In the space of a short few weeks this was my life and I was dead inside. It really was that fast, the violence came like flicking a switch and I was instantly shattered by the horrific abuse."( Emma )