Guestpert : Gayani DeSilva
Category : Women's Issues
Tags : women, relationships, violence
Gayani DeSilva is a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist with 20 years experience. She is the author of A Psychiatrist's Guide: Helping Parents Reach Their Depressed Tween.
Domestic violence or Intimate partner violence (IPV) is defined as is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. It does not simply apply to physical or sexual violent contact. It includes bullying, verbal abuse, intimidation, economic deprivation, isolation, demanding subservient behavior, manipulating, and using guilt, blame and coercion. This behavior is common, and with more awareness, these behaviors can be thwarted.
Nearly half of the women murdered in the past decade were murdered by their intimate partners (usually by strangulation). One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.
Warning signs of an abusive partner: Trying to choke their partner—this is a strong indicator that a relationship can turn fatal. Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. At the beginning of a relationship, it may not be obvious that there is potential for abuse, but look for the subtle signs of control, low frustration tolerance, poor conflict resolution skills, becoming easily angered, externalizing blame, and being manipulative and critical.
Many people experiencing this domestic abuse struggle to leave. Despite being hurt, demeaned and scared of further harm, leaving the abusive partner can seem like the most difficult act to endure. This is because the abuser has manipulated and decimated their partner’s sense of self and self-esteem.
Help yourself. Call the domestic violence hotline. Tell your friends. Seek shelter at a safe house. Seek therapy. Engage in self-care by improving your nutrition, exercising, visiting with friends, pursuing education or a career, travel, get massages, manicures and pedicures, go to the salon, and follow your inner voice and passions.
Friends can help by being nurturing, taking your friend who is in an abusive relationship to visit with other friends. This is not a time to abandon your friend. Her abusive partner will be isolating her, and she needs to know that her friends are there for her. Continue to be warm, compassionate and enthusiastic about your friend and your friendship.
Ramifications of being abused can be significant. Many develop major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, and even death by suicide.